Many people don't know that cataracts are the number one culprit for sight loss in adults over 54. In truth, more than 50% of senior citizens have some amount of cataract development.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is when the lens, the portion of the eye that focuses light to produce images, becomes clouded. The clouding prevents the passage of light necessary for eyesight.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Many adults attribute loss of sight with getting older however cataracts do show some symptoms that are distinct from typical age-related vision problems. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience hazy vision, increased glare from sun light or artificial light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some types of cataracts show no symptoms until they are well developed while others may even result in a temporary improvement in near vision called ''second sight''.
There are three main types of cataracts which are distinguished by where they are located within the lens. A subcapsular cataract is located at the back of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are a higher risk for individuals with diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking large amounts of steroid medications. A cataract found in the nucleus or center of the lens is categorized as a nuclear cataract and is usually a result of normal aging. The third type of cataract, a cortical cataract usually occurs in the lens cortex, the part surrounding the central nucleus. Cortical cataracts often start off with cloudy blotches that start in the outer areas of the lens and gradually spread toward the nucleus.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Researchers have not yet determined fail-safe ways to prevent cataracts but some say that guarding your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research suggests that taking antioxidants and limiting consumption of salt can also prevent development.
During the early stages, eyeglasses can help treat loss of sight, nevertheless, at some point vision will likely deteriorate to a level to require surgical treatment. Surgery for cataracts is actually the most common surgery in the country and is usually quite successful. In most cases, the doctor removes the opaque lens and implants a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). For 90% of patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
Don't let vision diseases go untreated. A yearly eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Contact our Scotts Valley, CA optometry practice today to schedule an exam.