June has been declared Cataract Awareness Month by Prevent Blindness, an organization dedicated to preventing blindness and preserving sight. In honor of Cataract Awareness Month, we will share some facts which may surprise you about cataracts.

What are Cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye caused by a buildup of protein. Over time, this clouded lens allows less light to pass through the eye, and causes cloudy, blurry vision, difficulty seeing at night, sensitivity to light, fading colors, and double vision.

Facts about Cataracts

While cataracts are very common and in fact a normal part of the aging process, here are some surprising facts about cataracts you may not know.

Cataracts are the Leading Cause of Blindness in the World

As mentioned, cataracts are very common as we age, but did you know that they are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, and the leading cause of blindness in the world? Even though treatment to remove cataracts is widely available, treatment costs, lack of insurance, or a lack of awareness prevents people from having the treatment they need for cataracts. If left untreated, cataracts lead to vision loss and blindness.

Cataracts Don’t Just Affect the Elderly

While most of us will develop cataracts as we age, cataracts are not exclusive to the elderly. Babies can be born with cataracts due to a birth defect, and certain conditions such as diabetes, radiation to the upper body, eye surgery, and eye injuries can cause cataracts to develop much more quickly.

Sun Exposure Can Increase Your Risk for Cataracts

While most of us understand the impact the UV rays from the sun can have on our skin, it may be a surprise to learn that spending a lot of time in the sun without quality sunglasses to protect the eyes can also increase the risk of developing cataracts.

Cataracts Affected the Work of the Famous Painter, Claude Monet

The French Impressionist painter, Claude Monet, developed cataracts in his sixties, and this greatly affected his work late in his career. Learn more about Monet’s experience. [1]

By Age 80, Most People Either Have Cataracts or Have Had Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries in the United States, and is a quick procedure, typically only lasting 20 – 30 minutes. During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and is replaced with a clear, artificial lens, which restores vision. As most cataracts develop very slowly, surgery may not be needed right away. Dr. Kazem at Lawrenceville Family Eyecare has years of experience and advanced technology to monitor the progression, and if surgery is recommended, will refer you to an expert provider for the cataract surgery.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4408507/