A surprising number of individuals don't know that cataracts affect approximately 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In reality, over half of senior citizens have some degree of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. The clouding inhibits the passage of light necessary for proper eyesight.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Cataracts are often mistaken as regular age-related vision decline, however there are a number of symptoms that distinguish them. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include blurred vision, sensitivity to light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some cataracts show no symptoms until they are more advanced while others may even result in what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
The word cataract comes from the Latin cataracta meaning ''waterfall''. This may be because the appearance of opaque clouds in the eye resemble the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. Cataracts that develop as a result of aging typically show an initial cloudiness in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens leading to a complete loss of transparency and blindness.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
Researchers have not determined surefire ways to prevent the development of cataracts but some say that protecting your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research suggests that antioxidants and limiting salt consumption may also prevent development.
In the early stages, visual aids can help correct loss of sight, nevertheless, eventually vision may deteriorate enough to require surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is in fact the most common surgery in the United States and is usually a success. In the standard surgery, the surgeon takes out the opaque lens and replaces it with a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). In 9 out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
If you are 40 or over it is important to schedule an annual eye examination to detect signs of eye diseases such as cataracts. Call our optometry practice today to book your appointment.