Many people aren't aware that cataracts are the leading culprit for sight loss for people 55 and over. In reality, over half of individuals above age 65 have some amount of cataract development.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. This inhibits the transmission of light necessary for proper vision.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Cataracts can often be brushed off as regular age-related vision decline, yet there are some characteristics to look for that set them apart. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience blurry vision, sensitivity to light or a decrease in color vibrancy. Some types of cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are well developed while others may even result in a short-lived improvement in near vision called ''second sight''.
Types of Cataracts
There are three main types of cataracts which are categorized by where they are positioned within the lens. A subcapsular cataract occurs at the rear of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are an increased risk for people with diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking large amounts of steroids. A cataract found in the central area (nucleus) of the lens is categorized as a nuclear cataract and is usually found in conjunction with normal aging. Finally, a cortical cataract typically is located in the cortex of the lens, the part surrounding the nucleus. Cortical cataracts are characterized by cloudy blotches that start in the outer areas of the lens and work their way to the center.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Researchers have not determined guaranteed ways to prevent the development of cataracts but some say that reducing UV exposure your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research suggests that antioxidants and limited consumption of salt may also play a role in prevention.
In the initial stages, eyeglasses can be used to treat vision loss, nevertheless, eventually eyesight will likely deteriorate to a level to require surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is actually the most frequently performed surgery in the United States and is typically a success. In most cases, the doctor takes out the opaque lens and implants a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). For nine out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
Don't let vision diseases go untreated. An annual eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Contact our Mesa, AZ eye practice today to book your appointment.