A surprising number of adults aren't aware that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In truth, over half of senior citizens have some degree of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. This inhibits the transmission of light that is essential for eyesight.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Many people over 40 associate vision loss with age however cataracts do present some symptoms that are different from regular age-related vision problems. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include slightly hazy vision, sensitivity to sun light or artificial light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some types of cataracts show no symptoms until they are well developed 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 white opacities in the eye resembles the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. Cataracts that develop as a result of aging typically show an initial cloudiness in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens resulting in a total loss of transparency and blindness.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
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 antioxidants and limited salt intake may also be preventative.
While initial loss of sight can be helped using vision correction such as eyeglasses or magnifying devices, eventually eyesight will likely deteriorate enough to necessitate surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is in fact the most common surgery in the US and is generally quite successful. In most cases, the surgeon removes the 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.
To ensure early diagnosis and treatment you should schedule a yearly eye examination to detect symptoms of eye diseases such as cataracts. Call our Virginia Beach, VA optometry practice today to book your appointment.