Many adults don't know that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In fact, more than 50% of senior citizens have some degree of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's clear lens. This prohibits the passage of light necessary for proper eyesight.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Often adults associate loss of sight with getting older however cataracts do have certain symptoms that are different from typical age-related vision loss. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include blurry 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 short-lived improvement in near vision known as ''second sight''.
Types of Cataracts
There are three types of cataracts which are differentiated by the position within the lens. A subcapsular cataract is located at the rear of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are a higher risk for individuals that have diabetes, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are prescribed high doses of steroid medications. A cataract located in the center (nucleus) of the lens is called a nuclear cataract and is typically associated with normal aging. Finally, a cortical cataract generally is located in the lens cortex, the area surrounding the nucleus. Cortical cataracts often start off with cloudy blotches that start in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the center.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
There is little you can do to prevent cataracts, other than guard your eyes from UV exposure by using sunglasses. Some research suggests that taking antioxidants and reduced salt consumption can also prevent development.
Although initial loss of sight can be treated with corrective devices such as glasses or magnifying lenses, at some point vision may deteriorate to a level to require surgery. Surgery for cataracts is actually the most frequently performed surgery in the US and is usually a success. In the standard surgery, the surgeon takes out the clouded lens and implants a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). For 9 out of 10 patients, they are able to restore vision to between 20/20 and 20/40.
Don't let eye diseases go untreated. A yearly eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Call our Lafayette, LA optometry practice today to schedule your appointment.