Many people don't know that cataracts are the primary cause of sight loss amongst people 55 and over. In fact, over 50% of senior citizens have some degree of cataracts.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. The clouding prohibits the transmission of light needed for proper vision.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Many adults attribute vision loss with age however cataracts do have a number of symptoms that are different from regular age-related vision loss. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include slightly blurred vision, increased glare from light or a decrease in the brightness of color. Some types of cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are well developed while others may even show signs of what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
There are three main types of cataracts which are differentiated by the position within the lens. A subcapsular cataract occurs at the rear of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are especially common amongst individuals with diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking high doses of steroids. A cataract positioned in the center (nucleus) of the lens is called a nuclear cataract and is generally found in conjunction with increased age. Finally, a cortical cataract typically is located in the lens cortex, the part encircling the central nucleus. Cortical cataracts are characterized by white opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and gradually spread toward the nucleus.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
Researchers have not yet found guaranteed ways to prevent cataracts but some say that guarding your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies suggest that taking antioxidants and reducing consumption of salt can also be preventative.
During the beginning stages, eyeglasses can be used to improve loss of sight, however, eventually vision may deteriorate enough to necessitate surgery. Cataract surgery is actually the most common surgery in the US and is generally a success. In most cases, the surgeon removes the opaque lens and replaces it with a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). For nine out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
Don't let vision problems go undiagnosed. An annual eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Contact our Bloomington, IL eye practice today to book your appointment.