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Health & Medicine for Senior Citizens

Senior Citizens, Boomers Destined for Cataracts if They Live Long Enough

Professionals urged seniors to take action during Cataract Awareness Month - New study finds risk of hip fractures significantly reduced in Medicare patients who had cataract surgery

Cataracts may cause colors to appear faded or yellowish, vision to be blurred, cloudy. See video below

Aug. 14, 2012 - Over half of all Americans will develop cataracts by the age of 70 and those who do not surely will if they live long enough. But poor vision doesn't have to be an inevitable fact of aging, say medical professionals promoting Cataract Awareness Month in August., the website for this coalition, is designed to help senior citizens understand the simple outpatient procedures available to restore their vision and get them back to driving, reading and seeing clearly.

Cataract surgery is covered by Medicare, and most private insurance plans.


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"Recent technological advances means cataract surgery can do more than remove cloudy lenses. It can improve vision for those who are near or farsighted," said James W Klein, M.D. of Lakeshore Eye Surgery Center in St. Clair Shores, Michigan.

"In addition, a recent study showed that cataract surgery can also reduce a patient's risk of breaking a hip in a fall."

Cataract surgery is one of the most common operations performed in the United States, and yet many affected individuals avoid treatment. To help put patients at ease, provides a helpful list of questions for patients to ask their surgeon. Cataract surgery is usually performed in an ambulatory surgery center, takes less than fifteen minutes and patients can resume most normal activities the next day.

Since cataracts develop over years, gradual changes in vision can become the "new normal" and therefore ignored longer than necessary. Some people even describe cataracts as looking through a "dirty windshield."

At seniors can search to find a local surgeon who specializes in cataract surgery.,

If experiencing any of the following symptoms, seniors can search at to find a local surgeon who specializes in cataract surgery:

   ● Blurred, cloudy vision

   ● Difficulty seeing at night or while driving

   ● Sensitivity to light

   ● Seeing a "halo" around bright lights

   ● Colors appear faded or yellowed

A comprehensive eye exam will determine whether cataracts are present and whether you are a candidate for surgery.

For real stories from real people who have experienced cataract surgery, visit

> When is it time for surgery? Read below.

Risk of Hip Fracture Greatly Reduced in Medicare Patients After Cataract Surgery

A major study of Medicare patients shows that the risk of hip fractures was significantly reduced in patients who had had cataract surgery, compared to patients who did not undergo the procedure. Published in the August edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) the researchers believe their study is the first to demonstrate that cataract surgery reduces the rate of fractures in older patients with vision loss.

This suggests that cataract surgery could be an effective intervention to help prevent fractures and reduce associated morbidity and costs. The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Jules Stein Eye Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, collaborated on the study.

Read the complete news release on the Academy-supported study re the association of cataract surgery with reduced risk of hip fracture in Medicare beneficiaries

About is powered by eye care professionals who are committed to preserving and restoring vision. This coalition represents 300 ophthalmologists and optometrists across the United States. Your Sight Matters is supported by AmSurg, a leader in eye surgery for over 20 years.

When is it time for cataract surgery?

“Cataract surgery is a very common procedure, with a success rate of more than 95 percent,” says Jeffrey Whitman, MD, of the Key-Whitman Eye Center in Dallas, TX, and an Academy clinical correspondent.

”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.

Get a baseline exam if you’re over 40.
As part of the EyeSmart campaign, the Academy and EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, recommend that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline screening exam at age 40—the time when early signs of disease and vision changes may start to occur.

During this visit your Eye M.D. (ophthalmologist) will advise you on how often to have follow-up exams. People of any age with symptoms or risks for eye disease, such as a family history, should see their Eye M.D. to determine a care and follow-up plan.

Who is at Risk ?

Cataracts develop as you age, so the older you are the greater the risk. Over the age of 70, almost everyone has some clouding in the lens of the eye.

Living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to slow the development of cataracts

  > Wear sunglasses and a hat when you’re outside

  > Eat a healthy diet

  > Take antioxidant supplements (vitamins A, C & E)

· > Quit smoking

   > Manage diabetes and heart disease

   > Avoid toxic chemicals

Many studies suggest that exposure to ultraviolet light is associated with cataract development. Most eye care practitioners say the most important thing you can do to prevent cataracts is to wear sunglasses and a hat outside to reduce your exposure. Other types of radiation may also be causes.

Researchers say additional studies are needed to confirm whether hormone replacement therapy (HRT) significantly increases your chance of developing cataracts.

Living a healthy lifestyle goes a long way toward preventing cataracts. Some eye care practitioners believe that a diet high in antioxidants, such as beta-carotene (vitamin A), selenium and vitamins C and E, may slow cataract development. Meanwhile, having heart disease or diabetes may increase your risk. Studies published in 2002 and 2004 found lead exposure to be a risk factor.


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. The Academy’s consumer guide to cataract surgery offers more information.

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®, Hytrin®, Uroxatral® or Cadura®. 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

EyeCare America is a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Its award-winning Seniors EyeCare Program promotes annual eye exams for people 65 and older, raises awareness on age-related eye diseases, and facilitates access to eye exams and up to one year of care at no out-of-pocket cost for those who qualify.

EyeCare America's Seniors EyeCare Program is designed for people who:
   ● Are age 65 and older;
   ● Are US citizens or legal residents;
   ● Have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years; and,
   ● Do not belong to an HMO or the VA.

For information on no-cost care for oneself, family or friends, phone the toll-free helpline at 1-800-222-EYES (3937) anytime. For more on EyeCare America visit

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons—Eye M.D.s—with more than 27,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s” – opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the Academy's Web site at


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