Many don't know that cataracts are the primary culprit for vision loss amongst individuals 55 and over. In truth, more than half of senior citizens have some degree of cataract development.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. This prevents the passage of light that is essential for eyesight.
Signs of cataracts
Often people over 40 associate vision loss with getting older however cataracts do have certain signs that are distinct from normal age-related eyesight loss. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include hazy vision, sensitivity to light or a decrease in color vibrancy. Some types of cataracts show no signs until they are more advanced while others may even show signs of what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
There are three types of cataracts which are differentiated by the position within the lens. A subcapsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are particularly common in people with diabetes, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are prescribed high doses of steroids. A cataract found in the nucleus or center of the lens is categorized as a nuclear cataract and is usually found in conjunction with increased age. The third type of cataract, a cortical cataract typically is located in the lens cortex, the part surrounding the central nucleus. Cortical cataracts are characterized by white opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and gradually spread toward the center.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
There is little you can do to prevent cataracts, other than guard your eyes from ultraviolet exposure by wearing sunglasses. Some research indicates that taking antioxidants and reducing salt consumption can also prevent development.
Although initial vision loss can be helped with vision correction such as glasses or magnifying lenses, at some point eyesight may be impaired enough to require surgery. Surgery for cataracts is in fact the most common surgery in the United States and is usually a success. In most cases, the doctor takes out the clouded lens and implants an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. In nine out of 10 patients, they are able to restore vision to between 20/20 and 20/40.
Don't let eye diseases go undiagnosed. A yearly eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Call our Ramsey, NJ optometry practice today to schedule an appointment.