August is Cataract Awareness Month…Learn How to Protect Your Eyes

cataractPeople from around the country write or call Prevent Blindness America daily seeking help affording the sometimes expensive treatments that can save their sight and improve their quality of life. Cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s naturally-clear lens, generally appear as we grow older. Over time, cataract formation in one or both eyes can cause vision impairment and blindness. Did you know that cataracts affect more than 22 million people in the U.S.? That’s one in six Americans over the age of 40.

The only treatment for cataracts is removal of the natural lens. Most cataract patients receive an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens implant. This treatment can be costly. Prevent Blindness America estimates that the annual cost of cataract surgery for all patients to be more than $6.8 billion annually.

We enjoy working with EPA because their public health mission aligns with our own mission of preventing blindness. EPA just issued a report that reminds us that long-term ultraviolet radiation exposure from the sun is an important cause of cataracts. Additionally, people of all skin types are at risk for cataracts. We partner with EPA’s SunWise Program to remind both adults and children to always use eyewear that absorbs ultraviolet rays and to wear a wide-brimmed hat.

We hope that as a result of our prevention efforts, many people will never face vision loss from cataracts or the costs of cataract surgery and will be more likely to enjoy a lifetime of healthy vision.

About the Author: Ken West is Senior Director of Communications with Prevent Blindness America, the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight.