SUNDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Americans are living longer
than ever before and most people who live into their 70s and beyond
will develop cataracts at some point.
That's why it's important to know the risks and symptoms of
cataract, what to do to delay onset, and how to decide when it's
time for surgery, experts at the American Academy of Ophthalmology
(AAO) explained in a news release.
People should get a baseline eye screening exam at age 40, when
early signs of disease and vision change may begin to occur,
according to the AAO. During the visit, the ophthalmologist will
explain how often to schedule follow-up exams. People of any age
who have symptoms or are at risk for eye disease should make an
appointment with an ophthalmologist to establish a care and
Risk factors for cataract include family history, having
diabetes, smoking, extensive exposure to sunlight, serious eye
injury or inflammation, and prolonged use of steroids, especially
combined use of oral and inhaled steroids.
People can reduce the risk for cataract by wearing UV-rated
sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors, and by not
smoking. Patients with diabetes should carefully control their
blood sugar levels through diet, exercise and, if needed,
medications, said the AAO.
If cataracts do develop, patients are urged to become
well-informed about when to consider surgery, which has a success
rate of more than 95 percent, the experts advised. The decision
should be based on how symptoms such as glare, halos, blurriness,
dimmed colors or other cataract-related problems affect daily
activities such as driving or reading.
Once the decision to undergo cataract surgery has been made,
patients need to be sure to inform the surgeon if they take Flomax,
Hytrin, Uroxatral or Cardura, because these medications can cause
the iris to move out of its normal position, leading to problems
during cataract surgery. Informing surgeons about use of these
drugs allows them to adjust their surgical technique.
In addition, patients who have had LASIK or other laser
refractive surgery should provide the surgeon with their
pre-surgery vision correction, the AAO noted, which is sometimes
known as a "K" card.
The U.S. National Eye Institute has more about