A surprising number of individuals aren't aware that cataracts are the primary culprit for vision loss among those 55 and over. In truth, more than 50% of senior citizens have some degree of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
Cataracts occur when the ocular lens, the part of the eye that focuses light to produce images, becomes clouded. The clouding prohibits the passage of light that is essential for proper vision.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Many adults attribute vision loss with getting older however cataracts do present certain signs that are different from normal age-related eyesight loss. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include slightly blurred 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 result in what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
Types of Cataracts
There are three main types of cataracts which are differentiated by where they are found within the lens. A subcapsular cataract is found at the rear of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are particularly common amongst individuals with diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are prescribed large amounts of steroid medications. A nuclear cataract is found at the nucleus or center of the lens and is usually found in conjunction with growing older. Finally, a cortical cataract generally starts in the lens cortex, the area that surrounds 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
There is not yet a certain answer to avoid cataracts but some say that guarding your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies show that antioxidants and reduced consumption of salt can also be preventative.
In the initial stages, eyeglasses can help correct loss of sight, however, eventually vision 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 opaque lens and replaces it with a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). For nine out of 10 patients, vision is restored to between 20/20 and 20/40.
If you are 40 or over you should book a yearly eye exam to detect signs of vision diseases such as cataracts. Call our Hoover, AL optometry practice today to schedule your appointment.