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(BPT) - Does your life today look different than it did in your younger years — literally? If things seem more cloudy and blurry than usual, even with your glasses on, you may be one of 24 million Americans living with cataracts. Cataracts might be slow to make themselves known, but the ultimate impact they have on your life can be profound.
As daily activities like driving become more difficult, you might be feeling like you’ve lost some of your independence and may experience fear of missing out (FOMO) on the things you love, like traveling to your favorite destinations and spending quality time with your family. But that doesn’t have to be your reality.
“Many patients who come into my practice are unhappy with the way cataracts are making them miss out on experiences, but they’re hesitant about undergoing cataract surgery — even though it is the only treatment for cataracts,” said Dr. Bonnie Henderson*, a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine in Massachusetts. “I talk to my patients about the benefits of cataract surgery so they are comfortable undergoing treatment and don’t waste any more precious time missing out on what life has to offer.”
June is Cataract Awareness Month, a time to shine a spotlight on the toll this condition can take on the lives of millions of Americans. Whether you’re someone living with cataracts or concerned about a loved one struggling with their eyesight, Dr. Henderson sheds light on cataracts and answers important questions about the latest cataract surgery options.
What exactly are cataracts?
Cataracts cloud the eye’s naturally clear lens, blocking or changing how light passes through and resulting in blurry vision. Nearly everyone who lives long enough will develop cataracts. It’s one of the leading causes of vision loss in the United States and the primary cause of blindness in the world.,
What are people with cataracts missing out on?
A survey conducted by Alcon, the global leader in eye care, unveiled that people living with cataracts report experiencing poor vision when driving, having difficulty working and feeling fearful about falling. Many are also worried that cataracts may keep them from being able to clearly see vibrant colors, or the faces of their loved ones. These experiences could be further increasing their fears and frustrations about missing out on the things that bring them joy.
What are the treatment options for cataracts?
Surgery is the only way that you can correct cataracts. Nearly four million Americans go through the brief procedure each year, and many are able to quickly resume their lives. Today, there are even new options that allow you to correct cataracts and other eye conditions at the same time, like eye pressure associated with glaucoma, presbyopia or even astigmatism — potentially reducing the need for glasses that you may have worn your entire life.
What’s keeping people from having cataract surgery?
Despite the difficulties cataracts may cause, survey findings show that many who are impacted aren’t aware of the options available to help overcome the condition. Some decide not to seek treatment at all because they’re afraid of eye surgery or they simply accept cataracts as a natural part of aging.
The good news is that with the advancements in technology available today, cataract surgery is not something to fear — or delay. In fact, more than 90 percent of people 60 years and older who underwent cataract surgery said they realized that their worries about the surgery and recovery process were unfounded and they would advise someone they know to get the surgery.
You can hear real people talk about their cataract stories and learn more about available treatment options at MyCataracts.com. Be sure to talk to your doctor about how treatment can make sure you never again miss out on what’s important in life. Take control of your time — the earlier you start the conversation, the faster you can get back to doing the things you love.
* Dr. Bonnie Henderson is an internationally recognized surgeon who is also a paid consultant for Alcon.
 Prevent Blindness. Vision Problems in the U.S. Report. http://www.visionproblemsus.org/cataract/cataract-definition.html. Accessed April 2018. National Eye Institute (NEI). Facts About Cataract. https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts. Accessed May 2018. My Cataracts Survey Results. 2017. University of Louisville Physicians. Cataracts. http://uoflphysiciansse3.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=10&isArticleLink=false&pid=10&gid=000026. Accessed May 2018. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common Eye Disorders. https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/index.html. Accessed May 2018. World Health Organization. Causes of Blindness and Visual Impairment. http://www.who.int/blindness/causes/en/. Accessed May 2018. Know Your Cataract Eye-Q Survey. 2016. Lindstrom R. Thoughts on cataract surgery. Review of Ophthalmology. March 2015.