Many individuals aren't aware that cataracts affect approximately 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In reality, over half of individuals over 65 have some amount of cataract development.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's clear lens. The clouding prohibits the passage of light necessary for vision.
Symptoms of cataracts
Many adults attribute vision loss with age but cataracts do show certain symptoms that are different from regular age-related vision loss. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience slightly blurred vision, increased glare from light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are more advanced while others may even show signs of a temporary improvement in near vision called ''second sight''.
Cataract comes from cataracta which means ''waterfall'' in Latin. This may be because the appearance of opaque clouds in the lens is similar to the cloudy rush of water which also appears white. Cataracts that develop as a result of aging typically are characterized by an initial cloudiness in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens leading to eventual blindness.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Researchers have not determined surefire ways to prevent cataracts but some say that protecting your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies show that taking antioxidants and reduced salt consumption may also prevent development.
While early vision loss can be helped with corrective devices such as glasses or magnifying devices, at some point vision may be impaired to a level to require surgery. Cataract surgery is actually the most common surgery in America and is typically a success. Generally, the surgeon takes out the opaque lens and implants an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. For 90% of patients, they are able to restore vision to between 20/20 and 20/40.
To ensure early diagnosis and treatment you should schedule an annual eye exam to detect symptoms of vision diseases such as cataracts. Contact our North Reading, MA optometry practice today to book your appointment.