A surprising number of individuals don't know that cataracts affect approximately 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In reality, over 50% of senior citizens have some amount of cataract development.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's clear lens. The clouding prohibits the transmission of light that is essential for vision.
Signs of cataracts
Many people over 40 associate loss of sight with age however cataracts do have some signs that are different from typical age-related eyesight loss. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include slightly blurred vision, sensitivity to sun light or artificial light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are well developed while others may even result in what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
There are three main types of cataracts which are distinguished by the position within the lens. A subcapsular cataract is found at the rear of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are particularly common in individuals with diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking large amounts of steroids. A cataract found in the nucleus or center of the lens is categorized as a nuclear cataract and is typically a result of growing older. Finally, a cortical cataract usually starts in the cortex of the lens, the area encircling the nucleus. Cortical cataracts are characterized by cloudy blotches that start in the outer areas of the lens and gradually spread toward the center.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Researchers have not determined guaranteed ways to avoid cataracts but some say that reducing ultraviolet exposure your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research indicates that antioxidants and limited consumption of salt may also be preventative.
During the beginning stages, eyeglasses can be used to correct loss of sight, nevertheless, eventually eyesight will likely be impaired enough to require surgical treatment. Surgery for cataracts is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in America and is generally very successful. In the standard surgery, the doctor takes out the opaque lens and implants what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. In nine out of 10 patients, they are able to restore vision to between 20/20 and 20/40.
If you are 40 or over it is important to book an annual eye exam to check for symptoms of vision diseases such as cataracts. Contact our Westerville, OH eye practice today to schedule your appointment.