MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – August is Cataract Awareness Month and the physicians at the West Virginia University Eye Institute want you to know how important it is to have regular eye exams to detect cataract and other eye diseases.

Cataracts are the leading cause of low vision in the United States today. Sixty percent of all Medicare costs related to vision are attributable to cataracts. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 20.5 million Americans have cataracts, and by 2020, more than 30 million will have the condition. Cataract is also the leading cause of blindness among African Americans.

Individuals age 60 or older should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years. In addition to cataract, eye care will include signs of age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and other vision disorders. Early treatment for many eye diseases may save sight. People can have an age-related cataract in their 40s and 50s. But during middle age, most cataracts are small and do not affect vision. It is after age 60 that most cataracts steal vision and surgery may be required.  

At the WVU Eye Institute, cataract surgery is performed in the state-of-the-art same day surgery suite located within WVU Hospitals on an out-patient basis. A suture-less, or “no stitch,” technique is employed to optimize rapid visual recovery.

“Modern cataract surgery is one of the most successful surgeries performed in the United States each year. Commonly, the surgery lasts less than 15 minutes, and patients are able to return to normal activity in just a few days. Advances in lens implant and associated technology offer the chance to correct existing refractive disorders, such as astigmatism and presbyopia, at the time of the cataract removal. Many patients are much less dependent on eyeglasses after cataract surgery than they were before,” Charlie Moore, M.D., WVU Eye Institute ophthalmologist, said. “I find performing cataract surgery extremely gratifying in that I am helping people to maintain active, independent lives.”

To help delay cataracts, individuals can:
•    Wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight.
•    Stop smoking, which is a prominent risk factor for cataracts
•    Eat a healthy diet, including green, leafy vegetables, fruit and other antioxidant-rich foods.

Common symptoms of a cataract include cloudy or blurry vision, colors seem faded, glare from headlights and lamps or a halo may appear around lights, poor night vision, double vision or multiple images in one eye, or frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.

If you have any of these symptoms, contact the WVU Eye Institute at 304-598-4820 to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.
For more information: Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
st: 08-13-12