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Uptick in cataract surgeries may be linked to increased screen time

“When we concentrate on a task, like using the phone or the computer, our blink rate goes down from about 12 or so times to three times a minute"

Are you reading this on your phone? 

New research suggests that more and more young patients are having cataract surgery, which may be linked to increased screentime.

62-year-old Wilma Tucker says she has experienced challenges in her sight recently.

“When I was watching TV, the type on my screen, I was not able to read from where I was sitting on my sofa,” Tucker said. 

She knew her vision was changing when she couldn’t spot her friends during a night out.

“I had scanned the restaurant and I was like, ‘Where are they,'” Tucker said. “Finally, one of them walked up to me and said ‘we’re over here.’”

Tucker went to see her eye doctor and found out she had cataracts.

A cataract is the clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. They develop slowly, and painlessly over time. By age 80, more than half of Americans are diagnosed with a cataract or have had cataract surgery.

Florida Eye Specialists ophthalmologist, Dr. McGregor Lott says technology can help quickly realize the lack of strength in eyesight. “Phones and other devices have simply made it easier for people to detect a change in vision, that prompts a visit to their eye doctor,” Lott said.

Lott said 10 years ago, the average age for cataract surgery was 72-years-old. Now, it’s closer to 65-years-old.

“When we concentrate on a task, like using the phone or the computer, our blink rate goes down from about 12 or so times to about three times a minute,” Lott said. “Over a period of time, our eyes aren’t getting the moisture, or the nutrients they need to perform their best.”

Tucker had cataract surgery earlier this year and says it was painless.

“To wake up in the morning and not have to put my glasses on, it’s been life-changing,” Tucker said.

If you notice a change in your vision, experts recommend getting your eyes checked.

Signs and symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Clouded, blurred or dim vision
  • Increasing difficulty with vision at night
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Need for brighter light for reading and other activities
  • Seeing "halos" around lights
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
  • Fading or yellowing of colors
  • Double vision in a single eye

How can I protect my vision?

  • Have regular eye examinations: Eye examinations can help detect cataracts and other eye problems at their earliest stages. Ask your doctor how often you should have an eye examination
  • Quit smoking: Ask your doctor for suggestions about how to stop smoking. Medications, counseling and other strategies are available to help you
  • Manage other health problems: Follow your treatment plan if you have diabetes or other medical conditions that can increase your risk of cataracts
  • Choose a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables: Adding a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet ensures that you're getting many vitamins and nutrients. Fruits and vegetables have many antioxidants, which help maintain the health of your eye
  • Wear sunglasses: Ultraviolet light from the sun may contribute to the development of cataracts. Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays when you're outdoors
  •  Reduce alcohol use: Excessive alcohol use can increase the risk of cataracts

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