In an effort to educate the public about cataracts, Prevent Blindness America declared June as Cataract Awareness Month. According to the Vision Problems in the U.S. report from Prevent Blindness America, more than 24 million Americans age 40 and older suffer from a cataract. Worldwide, it is the leading cause of blindness. Cataracts can occur at any age, with a number of causes. Pharmacies can help educate their customers about what cataracts are, how they can be treated, and why they should not be ignored as inevitable signs of aging.
Information to Share with Your Customers About Cataracts
A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s lens that blocks or alters the passage of light into the eye. Vision loss because of a cataract can be restored, unlike vision loss as a result of other eye diseases. Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures performed in the United States, and it has a 95% success rate. A new study shows that those who undergo cataract surgery have a significantly reduced rate of hip fracture from falls.
Signs and Symptoms of a Cataract
Cataracts generally do not cause pain, tears, or redness. However, certain changes in vision could be signs of a cataract:
- Lights seem too dim to read or help you see work close-up. You may seem “dazzled” by bright and/or strong light.
- The sense of a film over your eyes; blurred vision, double vision, or ghost images.
- Frequent changes in prescription eyeglasses, though the changes don’t seem to improve your vision.
- Visible cataract on the pupil of your eye. It may appear yellowish or milky where a normal pupil is black.
Foods for Eye Health
To protect your eye health, focus on what you put in your mouth. Three compounds essential for eye health include: vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Research indicates antioxidant vitamins E and C may help reduce the incidence of cataracts.
Foods that are high in vitamin A include: sweet potatoes, apricots, kale, red bell peppers, carrots, and cantaloupe. Red bell peppers, strawberries, collard greens, oranges, mangoes, cabbage, and grapefruit are high in vitamin C. Peanut butter, almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, turnip greens and spinach are high in vitamin E. Lutein and zeaxanthin can be found in: egg yolks, corn, romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and kiwi.
Cataracts are common among much of the population, but if you get one, it does not have to mean permanent vision loss. Make a commitment to take care of your eyes now, by getting regular eye exams. Adults should see an eye doctor every two years, and once they reach age 60, eye exams should be done annually. Adults who already wear eyeglasses or contacts should see their eye doctors annually, or as often as recommended by the doctor. When you see the doctor, make sure your exam includes getting your eyes dilated, not only to look for cataracts but for signs of other eye disease such as age related macular degeneration and glaucoma.
By including the above information educational pamphlets and promotional posters hung near the pharmacy counter, pharmacists may be able to encourage your customers to talk to their doctors about cataracts, restoring their vision and preserving their independence.