Your FSA and Cataract Awareness Month

Non-profit health advocacy group, Prevent Blindness, has named June 2014 Cataract Awareness Month, and considering the scope of the problem in the U.S. and around the world, it can't come at a moment too soon. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, and the condition afflicts more than 24 million Americans over the age of 40.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts are any cloudiness or discoloration that emerges inside the lens of the eyeball, which is located directly behind the colored portion of the eye called the iris. As light hits these cloudy areas, it can refract and scatter light, leading to blurry vision, glare and the reduction in the ability to recognize colors. If you're over the age of 40, the message of Cataract Awareness Month should be your wakeup call to reexamine your eye health.

If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you can cover a wide range of consultations, vision correction items and other flex spending products to better understand your risk for cataracts.

Here are a few ways to get started:

Make an appointment with an ophthalmologist

  • As you eclipse the age of 40, you should make an effort to visit your ophthalmologist (your FSA will cover out-of-expenses for your visit such as co-pays and deductibles) every two to four years. Or, even sooner if you think you're experiencing the early symptoms of cataracts. This is a good time to talk with your doctor about any changes in your vision, your family history and potential causes that may contribute to cataract development.

Monitor your risk factors

  • While many cataracts are caused simply by aging and a breakdown in ocular tissues, there are ways to stunt their development and lessen the chances that they will emerge in the first place. According to Clear View Eyes, eating a well-balanced diet that's rich in vitamin C has been found to slow cataract development in some studies. Additionally, smoking tobacco, excessive sun exposure, diabetes, obesity, hypertension and eye injuries have all been known to be direct or contributing causes to cataracts, reports The Mayo Clinic.

Educate your friends and family

  • The purpose of these monthly health initiatives is as much about starting a conversation as it is about taking stock of one's health, so use your newfound knowledge to educate a loved one or friend about cataracts as well. Prevent Blindness America offers a free online module with a PowerPoint presentation for those who wish to host discussions or seminars on cataracts, so be sure to check out the group's Healthy Eyes Educational Series for more information!

You only have one pair of eyes, so make sure you take care of them to the best of your ability! If you have an FSA, be sure to visit FSAstore.com to see our extensive selection of eye care products and much more that can be purchased with your tax-free funds!

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