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Home » What's New » August is Cataracts Awareness Month: Book your Eye Exam in Monona Today

August is Cataracts Awareness Month: Book your Eye Exam in Monona Today


We all know why we need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen in the summer. Winter, however, can be deceiving. It's an illusion to assume that we are safe from sunburns during the colder season.

Snow acts as a powerful mirror for sunlight and magnifies the effects of UV rays which would otherwise be absorbed by the ground. As a result, the eyes are exposed to both the UV radiation bouncing back from the snowy carpet and the rays shining down directly from the sun.

If your family is skiing or snowboarding up in the mountains, you need to be even more careful! UV rays are more powerful at higher altitudes. Another important factor to remember is that ultraviolet radiation penetrates through clouds, so even if the sun is hidden behind them, it can still damage your eyes.

Prevent overexposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses that absorb at least 95% of ultraviolet radiation when you go outside, no matter what time of year it is. Even though you want to look great in your shades, the most important part of choosing sunglasses is making sure they provide adequate protection against UV. Make sure the lenses are 100% UV blocking by looking for an indication that they block all light up to 400 nanometers - UV400. The good news is you don't necessarily have to pay more for full coverage for your eyes. Dozens of reasonably priced options exist that still provide total ultraviolet protection.

Another important factor in selecting sun wear is the size of the lenses. You want to make sure your glasses cover as much of the area around your eyes as possible. The more coverage you have, the less harmful radiation will be able to penetrate. Lenses that wrap around the temples will also prevent UV waves from entering from the sides.

If you like to ski or frolic in the snowy hills, you should be aware that the sun's rays are stronger at higher elevations, so you need to be especially careful to keep your eyes shaded on the slopes. In addition to sunglasses, it's a good idea to put on a wide brimmed hat that covers your eyes.

Make a point to be knowledgeable about proper eye protection throughout the year. Don't forget to wear your sunglasses.

Many people don't know that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In reality, more than half of the population above age sixty-five has some degree of cataracts.

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. This prohibits the transmission of light needed for proper eyesight.

Signs of cataracts

Cataracts are often mistaken as regular age-related vision loss, however there are certain signs to look for that characterize them. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include blurry vision, increased glare from light or a decrease in the brightness of color. Some types of cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are well developed while others may even show signs of what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.

Cataract originates from cataracta which means ''waterfall'' in Latin. This may be because the appearance of opaque clouds in the lens is similar to the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. Senile cataracts, which occur in the elderly usually start off with an initial cloudiness in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens resulting in eventual blindness.

Preventing and Treating Cataracts

Researchers have not found surefire ways to prevent the development of cataracts but some say that guarding your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research shows that antioxidants and limiting salt consumption can also play a role in prevention.

In the initial stages, vision correction can be used to improve vision loss, however, eventually eyesight may deteriorate enough to necessitate surgery. Surgery for cataracts is actually the most common surgery in the US and is generally very successful. In most cases, the doctor takes out the clouded lens and implants what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. For 9 out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.

Don't let eye problems go untreated. An annual eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Call our Olathe, KS eye practice today to schedule your appointment.