June is both Fireworks Eye Safety and Cataract Awareness Month. Both cataracts and fireworks can cause blindness, although one is far easier to avoid.
Practicing basic firework safety can prevent eye injury. Unfortunately, cataracts are common in individuals over the age of 40 and can’t be prevented.
The good news is that though they aren’t preventable, they are treatable. Being aware of cataract signs can help you know when treatment is necessary.
Cataract symptoms usually appear slowly over the course of months or even years. Cataracts themselves form on the eye’s natural lens causing it to become more cloudy.
The more cloudy your lens gets, the harder it is to see. Visual symptoms of cataracts include:
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
- Excessive glare
- Seeing halos
- Decreased color contrast
- Difficulty seeing in low light
At first, some of these symptoms can be mistaken for normal signs of aging, or presbyopia. Presbyopia makes it difficult to see up close.
With cataracts, it’s harder to see in low light, which makes it difficult to read without a source of light. Reading glasses may also help if you have both presbyopia and cataracts, which isn’t uncommon.
If you find it’s hard to see in the dark and yet you’re more sensitive to light, that’s a good sign that you may have cataracts. If you think you may have cataracts, you should see an eye doctor.
Once you’ve been diagnosed with cataracts, your doctor may not want to treat them right away. If you have regular eye exams, this increases your chances that your cataracts will be diagnosed before developing enough to impede your vision.
Once cataracts start making it hard to see and affect your quality of life, most eye doctors will recommend having cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is a very common and minimally invasive procedure.
It involves removing the eye’s natural lens through a very small incision. After removing the lens, it’s then replaced with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens, or IOL. IOLs can even correct visual errors like presbyopia.
You should have cataract surgery before it completely impacts your vision. Vision loss because of cataracts can be restored with cataract surgery. The same is not true with traumatic eye injuries from fireworks.
The summer is a popular time for fireworks, especially around July 4th. Though they look pretty, fireworks shouldn’t be something you handle yourself.
You should only let professionals handle fireworks. Consumer fireworks often cause horrible injuries, up to 9,000 a year.
Even if they’re legal where you live, consumer fireworks are extremely dangerous. If you want to keep you and your family safe, enjoy fireworks displays at fairs and the Fourth of July.
Skip the at-home fireworks, including sparklers! Sparklers may seem like harmless fun, but when handled by children, they can go off and cause unnecessary injuries.
Stick to glow sticks and other non-incendiary accessories to keep the kids entertained!
Have questions about how to keep your eyes healthy this summer? Schedule an appointment at Sierra Nevada Eye Center in Reno, NV today!