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June is Cataract Awareness Month

When is it Time for Cataract Surgery? Almost everyone who lives a long life will develop cataracts at some point. As more Americans live into their 70s and beyond, we all need to know a few cataract basics: risks and symptoms, tips that may delay onset, and how to decide when it is time for surgery, so good vision can be restored.In honor of Cataract Awareness Month, we encourage our patients to know their risks, especially people who have diabetes, smoke, or have a family history of cataracts. When you have a cataract, your vision may appear clouded and blurry like in the image below.

The following 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. It’s 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 doctor (ophthalmologist) will advise you on how often to have follow-up exams. If you do not have an eye doctor, contact us to schedule an appointment today!

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. 

  • It’s important to wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays when outdoors and add a wide-brimmed hat when spending long hours in the 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 up to each person based on his or her daily activities and their related vision needs. After age 65, most people will see their Eye Doctor at least once a year, where they will have their vision tested and learn whether cataracts are developing. The Academy’s consumer guide to cataract surgeryoffers more information.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (

What is Pterygium?

If you are a surfer, you may have an eye condition called Pterygium, also known as “surfer’s eye”. Pterygium is a noncancerous fleshy growth of the tissue on the white of the eye, called the sclera. The pterygium normally grows from the inner corner of the eye or the nasal side of the eye. It usually grows slowly overtime and may grow over the cornea. If the pterygium is big enough, it can cause redness, inflammation and slowly affect the shape of the cornea, leading to an obstruction of vision. Common symptoms of pterygium include eye irritation such as redness, burning and itching, a feeling as if something is in the eye or grittiness and obstruction or blurred vision.

Risk factors include:

  • Mostly common in men, rather than women
  • Prolonged exposure to ultra violent light
  • Living in sunny climates, like Hawaii
  • Mostly seen in people ages 20-40
  • Irritants like dust and wind

Treatments for pterygium include:

  • Eye drops
    • If symptoms are mild enough and does not interfere with vision, treatment or surgery is not required. In this case, eye drops may be used to alleviate mild symptoms like redness and irritation.
  • Surgical removal
    • Surgical removal is recommended when experiencing significant discomfort or an obstruction of vision. A person may also elect for pterygium surgery for cosmetic purposes.
  • Prevention
    • This is the best treatment for pterygium.

To aide in the prevention of pterygium, we recommend doing the following:

  • Wear protective eye wear
    • While it’s important to protect our skin from the sun, many people forget about protecting their eyes. We recommend wearing sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays as well as guard against blue light. It is also important to get protective eye wear that guard against irritants like dust and wind.
  • Get your eyes examined by an eye care professional
    • An ophthalmologist is an eye care professional who is able to help determine the severity of the pterygium and determine if treatment is needed. An ophthalmologist can also see if the growth in the eye is cancerous.

If you are looking for relief from the symptoms caused by pterygium or if you are looking for an eye doctor that is experienced in the treatment of pterygium, call EyeSight Hawaii at 808-735-1935 to schedule an appointment with cornea specialist Dr. Olkowski, ophthalmologist Honolulu.