A surprising number of don't know that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In reality, more than half of adults over 65 have some degree of cataracts.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. The clouding inhibits the passage of light that is essential for vision.
Symptoms of cataracts
Cataracts are sometimes brushed off as typical age-related vision loss, however there are some symptoms that distinguish them. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience blurred vision, increased glare from sun light or artificial light or a decrease in color vibrancy. Some types of cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are more advanced while others may even result in a short-lived improvement in near vision known as ''second sight''.
The term cataract originates from the Latin cataracta defined as ''waterfall''. This may be because the appearance of white opacities in the eye resembles the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. Senile cataracts, which occur in the elderly usually appear as an initial cloudiness in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens resulting in a complete loss of transparency and blindness.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
There is no surefire answer to prevent cataracts but some say that protecting your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research suggests that taking antioxidants and limiting salt consumption may also be preventative.
While initial vision loss can be treated using visual aids such as glasses or magnifying lenses, eventually vision may deteriorate enough to require surgery. Cataract surgery is in fact the most common surgery in the country 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). In 90% of patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
To ensure early diagnosis and treatment it is important to book an annual eye exam to detect signs of eye diseases such as cataracts. Contact our San Diego, CA optometry practice today to schedule an appointment.