There are 24 million Americans over the age of 40 who are affected by cataracts

Presently, cataracts are the number one cause of blindness worldwide. In addition, cataracts are prevalent in older adults. As the American population ages, the report “Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems” projects that cataract cases will be over 38 million by 2032

What are cataracts?

Just behind your iris, there is a clear lens. The clear lens automatically focuses light on the retina, which is found at the back of your eye.

The natural lens is made of proteins and water. As you age, so do the proteins due to various factors like UV light, dietary changes, and metabolism.

Over time, the once-clear lens slowly begins to turn yellow until it eventually becomes brown. When you have a cataract, it makes the natural lens cloudy, leading to the distortion of vision. If left untreated, cataracts can eventually cause blindness.

cataracts awareness month - senior eye exam

Facts About Cataracts

Cataracts are an extremely common eye disease affects millions of people but is easily treatable, and can even be corrected with a fast, minor and virtually pain-free surgical procedure. Here are some facts about cataracts:


Cataracts are a natural result of aging

Cataracts is a common eye disease that can happen simply because of age. Cataracts can effect one or both eyes. To make sure cataracts don’t affect your vision, it’s important to get regular eye exams — especially if you’re over the age of 55.

Lifestyle and behavior can also have an influence

Aside from aging, certain hereditary and physical traits, along with certain lifestyle habits, can contribute to the development of cataracts. Here are a few factors that can increase your chance of developing a cataract:

  • Family history of cataracts
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

By 2050 the number of people in the U.S. with a cataract is expected to double

Between 2010 and 2019, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day, according to Pew Research. As the large baby boomer generation and following generations age, the number of cataract cases is expected to naturally increase.

By age 75, over 70% of people have a cataract or have had cataract surgery

Since it’s largely age related, cataracts are extremely common. Many people who develop a cataract undergo cataract surgery to remove the cloudy lens and restore their vision.

Wearing UV-blocking sunglasses can lower your risk

Proactively protecting your eyes won’t stop cataracts from forming, but it can lower your risk. Always way UV-blocking sunglasses or a shady hat when outdoors on a sunny day and eat a balanced diet that’s rich in vision-supporting foods, such as Vitamin C.

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world

Cataracts is a clouding of the eye lens — a vital part of clear vision. Left untreated, cataracts can lead to partial or total blindness. This, coupled with the fact that cataracts can naturally occur with age, makes it a dangerous disease if not proactively addressed.

Cataract surgery is nearly painless and typically takes under 30 minutes

Cataracts can be quickly and effectively treated with surgery. The natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). This new lens allows the patient to see clearly again.

Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in the U.S. each year

Because cataracts are so common, and because the issue can be easily treated at a very high success rate, cataract surgery has become extremely common place. Patients suffering from cataracts or who notice their vision blurring and the surface of their eye(s) looking cloudy should schedule an eye exam immediately.

Cataract awareness, #1 cause of blindness worldwide

Watch this episode of A State of Sight with Isaac Porter, MD to learn more about cataracts and how they may affect vision.

Fortunately, many efforts are underway to help treat cataracts and improve vision. This includes improving access and surgical care in undeveloped countries where the burden of cataracts is greatest.