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        NEWS 1
 

Cataracts Can Develop In Younger Americans

 

While more than 20 million Americans have cataracts, a common eye condition, new numbers indicate not all of the patients are elderly .

The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates nearly half of all people will have a cataract by the time they're 65.

Laura Monk, however, is dealing with the condition in her 40's.  She said, “It was terrible, I couldn't drive at night. You know, I'm in my 40s and I felt like I was 80.”

Ophthalmologist Robert Tucker said cataracts occur when the normally clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy.

They can develop from eye injuries, certain diseases, medications or exposure to sunlight.

Dr. Robert Tucker said, “The biggest role at least in younger folks is probably exposure to ultraviolet radiation. They go to the beach, they go water skiing, snow skiing. You get ultraviolet radiation directly from above you.”

Like other patients her age, Monk noticed her eyesight was changing rapidly.  She said, “The best way I can describe it is looking through Vaseline…It's just blurry, blurry, blurry and it got thicker and thicker.”

Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract.

Dr. Tucker said, “We use a device that fragments or breaks thecataract up into small pieces and we put in its place a man-made lens.”

Dr. Tucker said following surgery, patients usually notice an immediate improvement in their eyesight. 

Experts advise wearing sunglasses or a hat to block ultraviolet sunlight saying it may help to delay cataracts.

They also recommend quitting smoking and a healthy diet.

 

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