A surprising number of individuals aren't aware that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In fact, more than 50% of senior citizens have some amount of cataract development.
What is a cataract?
Cataracts occur when the lens becomes clouded. The clouding inhibits the passage of light that is essential for proper vision.
Signs of cataracts
Many people over 40 associate vision loss with getting older however cataracts do show certain symptoms that are different from typical age-related vision problems. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience slightly blurry vision, sensitivity to sun light or artificial light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some types of 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''.
Cataracts are broken down into three types which are differentiated by the position within the lens. A subcapsular cataract occurs at the rear of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are particularly common in people that have diabetes, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are prescribed high doses of steroid medications. A cataract found in the center (nucleus) of the lens is called a nuclear cataract and is generally associated with growing older. Finally, a cortical cataract usually is located in the lens cortex, the area encircling the nucleus. Cortical cataracts are characterized by cloudy blotches that start in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the central area.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Researchers have not determined guaranteed ways to avoid cataracts but some say that reducing UV exposure your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies suggest that taking antioxidants and reduced consumption of salt can also play a role in prevention.
During the early stages, eyeglasses can help treat loss of sight, however, eventually eyesight may deteriorate to a level to require surgery. Cataract surgery is actually the most common surgery in the United States and is generally a success. Generally, the surgeon takes out the opaque lens and implants a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). For nine out of 10 patients, they are able to restore vision to between 20/20 and 20/40.
Don't let vision problems go untreated. An annual eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Contact our Alpharetta, GA optometry practice today to schedule your exam.