A surprising number of individuals aren't aware that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In fact, more than half of the population above age 65 has some degree of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
Cataracts occur when the ocular lens becomes clouded. This prohibits the passage of light that is essential for proper eyesight.
Signs of cataracts
Cataracts are sometimes brushed off as typical age-related sight loss, yet there are some signs that set them apart. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include slightly hazy vision, sensitivity to light or a decrease in color vibrancy. Some types of cataracts show no symptoms until they are more advanced while others may even result in a short-lived improvement in near vision called ''second sight''.
There are three types of cataracts which are differentiated by the position within the lens. A subcapsular cataract is found at the back of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are an increased risk for individuals with diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are prescribed high doses of steroid medications. A nuclear cataract is found at the central area (nucleus) of the lens and is generally found in conjunction with growing older. Finally, a cortical cataract typically starts in the cortex of the lens, the part surrounding the central nucleus. Cortical cataracts are characterized by cloudy blotches that start in the periphery of the lens and gradually spread toward the central area.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
Researchers have not found fail-safe ways to avoid the development of cataracts but some say that reducing UV exposure your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research indicates that taking antioxidants and limited salt consumption can also be preventative.
While early vision loss can be helped using vision correction such as glasses or magnifying lenses, eventually eyesight will likely deteriorate enough to require surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is actually the most common surgery in America and is usually a success. Generally, the doctor removes the lens and replaces it with a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). 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 you should book a yearly eye examination to detect signs of vision diseases such as cataracts. Contact our Duvall, WA eye practice today to book your appointment.