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What Texans Should Know about Cataract Surgery
Date:8/18/2009

AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Almost everyone who lives a long life will develop cataracts at some point. As more Americans live into their 70s and beyond, we all need to know a few cataract basics: risks and symptoms, tips that may delay onset, and how to decide when it is time for surgery, so good vision can be restored.

August is Cataract Awareness Month, and the Texas Ophthalmological Association (TOA) encourages Texans to know their risks, especially people who have diabetes, smoke, or have a family history of cataract.

"Cataract surgery is a very common procedure, with a success rate of more than 95 percent," says TOA President and Waxahachie eye doctor Galen Kemp, MD. "The eye's natural lens with cataract is removed and replaced by an intraocular lens (IOL), selected to meet each patient's vision correction needs. Talk with your Eye M.D. about IOL options and related use of eyeglasses, so together you can select the best IOL for you."

A few simple tips will help you maintain healthy vision and make the right choices if you develop a cataract.

Know your risk factors. In addition to having a family history of cataract, having diabetes, or being a smoker, other factors can increase your risk of developing a cataract. These include extensive exposure to sunlight, serious eye injury or inflammation, and prolonged use of steroids, especially combined use of oral and inhaled steroids.

Reduce your risks. Use UV-rated sunglasses when outdoors and add a wide-brimmed hat when spending long hours in the midday sun. One of the best things anyone can do for their eyes and overall health is to quit smoking or never start. People with diabetes can reduce cataract risk by carefully controlling their blood sugar through diet, exercise and medications if needed.

Be informed about when to consider surgery. This decision is really up to each person based on his or her daily activities and related vision needs. The concept that the cataract is "ripe," or ready, is no longer considered a valid reason for surgery. After age 65, most people will see their Eye M.D. at least once a year, where they will have their vision tested and learn whether cataracts are growing. But only an individual can determine whether symptoms like glare, halos, blurriness, dimmed colors or other cataract-related problems are making activities like driving and reading difficult or impossible.

Talk to your Eye M.D. When preparing for surgery you will need to give your doctor your complete medical and eye health history, including especially whether you are or have taken Flomax(R), Hytrin(R), Uroxatral(R) or Cadura(R). These medications can cause the iris to move out of its normal position, which can lead to complications during cataract surgery. You can still have successful surgery if your surgeon knows you have taken these drugs and adjusts his or her surgical technique.

If you have had LASIK or other laser refractive surgery, it's important to provide your pre-surgery vision correction prescription to your Eye M.D., if possible. (The record of this prescription is also called the "K card.")

About Cataract: As we age, the eye's lens slowly becomes less flexible, less transparent and thicker. Then areas of the lens become cloudy; if left in place until the "overripe" stage, the cataract would be completely white and block vision. Cataracts often develop in both eyes at about the same time. By age 75 about 70 percent of people have cataracts.

For more information on cataract and IOLs, visit www.geteyesmart.org.

About the Texas Ophthalmological Association

The TOA is a member organization of over 800 Texas ophthalmologists which was founded in 1956 to promote the science and art of medical eye care. Eye healthcare is provided by three sources - opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat all eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the TOA's Web site at www.TexasEyes.org.


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SOURCE Texas Ophthalmological Association
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