Many aren't aware that cataracts are the primary culprit for vision loss amongst people over the age of 54. In reality, over half of senior citizens have some degree of cataracts.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is when the lens becomes clouded. The clouding inhibits the transmission of light necessary for proper eyesight.
Signs of cataracts
Cataracts can often be mistaken as regular age-related sight loss, however there are a number of symptoms to look for that distinguish them. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience blurry vision, sensitivity to light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some cataracts show no signs until they are well developed while others may even result in a short-lived improvement in near vision called ''second sight''.
There are three main types of cataracts which are differentiated by where they are positioned within the lens. A cataract located at the back of the lens is referred to as a subcapsular cataract. Subcapsular cataracts are particularly common amongst individuals with diabetes, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking large amounts of steroid medications. A nuclear cataract is a cataract found at the nucleus or center of the lens and is generally associated with normal aging. The third type of cataract, a cortical cataract usually starts in the lens cortex, the part encircling 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 central area.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
There is no guaranteed way to prevent cataracts but some say that reducing UV exposure your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research suggests that antioxidants and limited consumption of salt may also be preventative.
During the initial stages, visual aids can be used to treat loss of sight, however, eventually vision will likely deteriorate enough to require surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in the US and is generally a success. In most cases, the surgeon removes the lens and replaces it with what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. For nine out of 10 patients, vision is restored to between 20/20 and 20/40.
To ensure early diagnosis and treatment it is important to book a yearly eye exam to check for symptoms of vision diseases such as cataracts. Contact our Salem, OH eye practice today to book an exam.