A surprising number of aren't aware that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In truth, more than half of adults above age 65 have some degree of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is when the ocular lens becomes clouded. This inhibits the passage of light necessary for proper eyesight.
Symptoms of cataracts
Many adults attribute vision loss with age but cataracts do present certain symptoms that are distinct from regular age-related eyesight problems. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience slightly hazy vision, increased glare from light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some cataracts show no signs until they are well developed while others may even show signs of a short-lived improvement in near vision known as ''second sight''.
Types of Cataracts
There are three main types of cataracts which are differentiated by the location within the lens. A cataract found near the rear of the lens is called a subcapsular cataract. Subcapsular cataracts are especially common in individuals that have diabetes, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are prescribed high doses of steroid medications. A nuclear cataract is a cataract positioned at the nucleus or center of the lens and is typically associated with increased age. The third type of cataract, a cortical cataract typically is located in the cortex of the lens, the part that surrounds the nucleus. Cortical cataracts are characterized by cloudy blotches that start in the outer areas of the lens and work their way to the nucleus.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
There is no guaranteed answer to prevent cataracts but some say that reducing UV exposure your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research indicates that antioxidants and limiting consumption of salt may also be preventative.
During the early stages, vision correction can be used to treat vision loss, however, at some point vision will likely deteriorate enough to require surgery. Cataract surgery is actually the most frequently performed surgery in the country and is typically a success. In the standard surgery, the doctor removes the opaque lens and replaces it with a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). For 9 out of 10 patients, vision is restored to between 20/20 and 20/40.
If you are 40 or over you should book an annual eye exam to detect signs of eye diseases such as cataracts. Contact our Kennett Square, PA optometry practice today to schedule your appointment.