This post is sponsored by Alcon.
Over five years ago, I retired to pursue my passions of photography, writing, and travel. There have been challenges, but the rewards have far outweighed the hardships. I’ve learned many lessons during my adventures; however, none have been as important as that old, worn adage, “take care of your equipment.” This includes everything from your finances to your relationships, home, and most important of all, your health.
For my lifestyle, eye health rises to the top. And this couldn’t have been more clear than during a trip late last year to India. When I travel, I use my camera as an extension of my eyes. I see beautiful things, and I want to bring my images, and especially my impressions, home with me. India is a riot of sensations. Aromatic, flamboyant, crowded, chaotic and sensual would be just a few of the adjectives to describe it. But, what most grabbed my attention were the colors. In the national parks of India, the cool colors of green trees and blue skies relaxed and refreshed me. In the frenetic cities, the saturated oranges, yellows, and reds made me feel alert and sometimes a bit on edge. I could not only see the richness, but I could feel it inside as well.
Without good, well-maintained equipment, I never would have been able to bring the colors, and therefore my experiences and the emotions I felt, home to share. But there was a time when I was struggling with my vision and reluctant to get glasses. After some prodding from a friend, I got reading glasses and images around me were clearer. It was wonderful to be able to see again, and I wish I had taken care of my vision problem sooner. While I don’t suffer from cataracts right now, unfortunately for the 24 million people in the U.S. who are affected by cataracts, experiencing brilliant colors may be a distant memory.
According to a survey conducted by Alcon of about 1,300 adults, age 60 and over, who have undergone cataract surgery, nearly two out of three respondents (64%) report that cataracts impacted their lives before surgery, such as making it difficult to work, see colors, drive and watch TV and movies. Cataracts cloud the eye’s naturally clear lens, blocking or changing how light passes through and resulting in blurry vision.,  For most of us, cataracts progress slowly, starting around age 40 then slowly building as we get older. At first, we might not even notice that our vision has gotten a little cloudy, or that colors appear to be less rich and saturated. We may miss that our night vision is not as acute as it was or that sensitivity to glare from the sun is slowly getting worse.
Although cataracts cannot be prevented, the good news is that there are innovative treatment options available.The next time you make an appointment to see your eye doctor, make sure to discuss your vision and lifestyle to determine how to best “maintain your equipment” and which cataract treatment option may be right for you. There are options that can fix both cataracts and other vision conditions, like astigmatism or presbyopia (the inability to see close up), at the same time. These options could not only help you lose those glasses you might have been wearing for distance or reading, they can re-open your eyes to the richness of color and the vibrancy of life that you might have been missing as your cataracts got worse.
The Alcon survey also shows us the emotional and lifestyle benefits of cataract treatment. For instance, more than 65 percent of respondents reported they felt surprised by the brightness and vividness of the colors around them after having the surgery. And nearly 60 percent of people surveyed said they appreciate feeling more confident when traveling because they can see the world more clearly after cataract surgery.
My trip to India made me more aware of how rich with color the world around us can be, and has made me realize how important it is to take care of my eyes. If my eyesight had been unfocused, cloudy or in other ways diminished from cataracts, my experiences of India also would have been completely different.
Visit MyCataracts.com to learn more about the signs and symptoms of cataracts and available treatment options. While there, you can also hear real patient stories about their own cataract journeys. Take action during Cataract Awareness Month and share your #MyCataracts story on social media.
 Prevent Blindness. Vision Problems in the U.S. Report. http://www.visionproblemsus.org/cataract/cataract-definition.html. Accessed May 2017.
 My Cataracts Survey Results. 2017.
 Kellogg Eye Center. Cataract. http://www.umkelloggeye.org/conditions-treatments/cataract. Accessed May 2017.
 National Eye Institute. Facts about Cataracts. https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts. Accessed May 2017.