Rising Tide Of Cataracts: Understanding The Challenges And Seeking Solutions


Cataract Awareness Month is celebrated in June, with the goal of raising awareness about the leading cause of blindness in the United States and around the world. While the statistics are concerning, there is no need to be concerned because cataracts are highly treatable through a simple surgical procedure with a remarkable 95% success rate, according to reports. Although cataracts are most commonly associated with people over the age of 40, they can affect people of all ages, including newborns, and are frequently caused by complications during pregnancy or the mother contracting certain diseases.

Understanding the symptoms, causes, and available treatments is crucial in combatting this widespread condition that impacts millions worldwide. Cloudy or blurred vision, faded colors, and difficulty seeing at night are early signs that warrant attention and prompt action, here’s what experts suggest: 

Lack Of Awareness Hinders Cataract Surgery

A recent Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) conducted by Sightsavers India reveals that the primary reason for not seeking cataract surgery is a lack of awareness, with 28.8% of individuals not perceiving the need for treatment. This highlights the importance of early access to health services and addressing misconceptions that prevent individuals from seeking timely care.

Age-Related Eye Impairments And Regular Examinations

Dr Sandeep Buttan, Technical Lead: Eye Health and Health System Strengthening, Sightsavers India said that as we age, our eyes become more susceptible to various eye diseases. Regular eye examinations by ophthalmologists are essential for detecting eye damage or signs of illness.

Cataracts, presbyopia, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and other impairments can affect people of all ages, but they are more prevalent in individuals over the age of 50. Proactive eye care through examinations can help identify these conditions early, he added. 

Cautious Eye Care for The Elderly

Individuals above the age of 65 are at higher risk of developing visual impairments. It is crucial for the elderly to take special precautions and prioritise eye care to maintain their well-being and overall health, Dr Buttan said. “The increase in the number of vision impairments can be attributed to population growth and ageing, underscoring the need for effective strategies to address this rising trend,” he told ABP Live. 

Diabetes And Its Impact On Vision

People with diabetes face a significantly higher risk of vision loss. Complications can range from infections and early cataracts to diabetic retinopathy, which impairs vision. Proper management of diabetes and regular eye examinations are vital in preventing and managing these conditions, Dr Buttan suggested. 

Dr Samir Sud, Director & Co-founder, Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals highlighted the escalating prevalence of cataracts, emphasising the impact it has on individuals and the healthcare system. Cataracts not only affect the quality of life for those affected but also impose a burden on healthcare resources.

Contributing Factors And Early Intervention

Dr Samir Sud identified lifestyle choices, such as excessive UV exposure, smoking, poor nutrition, underlying medical conditions, environmental factors, and genetic predisposition, as factors contributing to the surge in cataract cases. Early detection through regular eye examinations and timely surgical interventions can significantly improve vision and prevent further deterioration, he said.

Collaborative Efforts For Prevention And Accessible Care

Dr Sud calls for collaborative efforts among healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public to prioritise public education on preventive measures and promote a healthy lifestyle. Ensuring accessible and affordable eye care services will enable timely interventions and better outcomes for individuals affected by cataracts, he added.

Rise In Cataracts And Lifestyle Changes

Dr Nitin Deshpande, Director, Shree Ramkrishna Netralaya (Mumbai, Navi Mumbai & Thane) attributed the increase in cataract patients to changes in lifestyle. Factors such as exposure to ultraviolet rays, eye injuries, genetic disorders, steroid use, radiation therapy, smoking, and diabetes contribute to cataract formation, which is now observed in younger individuals. The prevalence of cataracts has surged post-pandemic due to restricted access to ophthalmic hospitals, Dr Deshpande said. 

Socio-Economic Burden And Accessible Surgery

Dr Nitin Deshpande, Director of Shree Ramkrishna Netralaya, shed light on the prevalence and factors contributing to the rise in cataract cases. The socio-economic burden imposed by cataract blindness demands prompt action. Dr Deshpande emphasised the significance of providing cataract surgery at an economical rate, ensuring accessibility for all individuals.

Moreover, the expertise of skilled surgeons plays a vital role in enhancing surgical outcomes and improving the overall management of cataract cases, he said. By focusing on these aspects, healthcare professionals and policymakers can work together to tackle the rising challenge of cataracts, preserving vision and improving the quality of life for affected individuals, he added. 

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