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June is Cataract Awareness Month

June 26, 2023 

Senior patient having an eye exam at ophthalmologist's office
One of most common health issues in older adults is the leading cause of blindness worldwide but is also safely and easily correctable – cataracts.

HSHS St. Francis Hospital is drawing attention to Cataract Awareness Month this June to educate the public on the symptoms of cataracts and offer ways to correct this vision issue. According to the National Eye Institute, a cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye (the clear part of the eye that helps to focus light). Cataracts are quite common as we age. In fact, more than half of all Americans will have a cataract by the time they are 80 years old. 

Although age is the most common reason, cataracts can occur at any age because of a variety of causes and can be present at birth. Cataracts can occur in one eye or both eyes but don’t “spread” from one eye to the other. Over time, if not treated, cataracts can lead to vision loss, and in fact are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States.

Cataract Symptoms
Cataracts can cause very mild symptoms at first but as they grow, they can cause changes in your vision. Some things you could experience are:
  • Cloudy or blurry vision.
  • Colors looking faded.
  • You can’t see well at night.
  • Lamps, sunlight or headlights seem too bright.
  • You see a halo around lights.
  • Double vision (which can go away as the cataract gets larger).
  • You often have to change the prescription for your glasses or contact lenses.

If you have any of the symptoms, talk with your eye doctor as they could also be signs of other eye problems.

Cataract Treatment
Early on, slight changes can be made to manage cataracts, such as using brighter lights at home or work; wearing anti-glare sunglasses; updating your eyeglasses or contact lenses prescription; or using magnifying lenses for reading and other activities. However, if your cataracts are getting in the way of your everyday activities like reading, driving or watching TV, your eye doctor may suggest surgery. During cataract surgery, the doctor removes the clouded lens and replaces it with a new, artificial lens (also called an intraocular lens, or IOL). 

Dr. Whitney Marlow, ophthalmologist who performs surgery at HSHS St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield and HSHS Holy Family Hospital in Greenville, shared, “Cataract surgery is one of the most common and safest operations in the United States as well as being highly effective. Many people report that they didn’t realize how bad their eyesight had gotten until they were able to see so clearly after surgery,” she said. 

Cataract surgeries are performed locally at HSHS St. Francis Hospital. Call 217-324-8547 for an appointment to determine if you are a candidate for cataract surgery.

Sources: National Eye Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
June is Cataract Awareness Month