A surprising number of aren't aware that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In reality, over half of senior citizens have some degree of cataract development.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is when the lens becomes clouded. This prevents the passage of light that is essential for proper vision.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Cataracts are sometimes mistaken as normal age-related vision decline, however there are some characteristics to look for that distinguish them. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include slightly blurred vision, sensitivity to light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some types of cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are well developed while others may even result in what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
Types of Cataracts
There are three main types of cataracts which are differentiated by the position within the lens. A cataract found at the back of the lens is referred to as a subcapsular cataract. Subcapsular cataracts are a higher risk for individuals that have diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are prescribed large amounts of steroid medications. A cataract found in the central zone (nucleus) of the lens is called a nuclear cataract and is typically associated with growing older. The third type of cataract, a cortical cataract typically is located in the lens cortex, the part that surrounds the nucleus. Cortical cataracts are characterized by white opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and gradually spread toward the nucleus.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Researchers have not determined fail-safe ways to avoid the development of cataracts but some say that reducing UV exposure your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies indicate that antioxidants and limiting salt consumption can also play a role in prevention.
Although initial vision loss can be helped using vision correction such as eyeglasses or magnifying devices, eventually vision may be impaired enough to necessitate surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in the United States and is usually quite successful. In most cases, the doctor removes the lens and replaces it with a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). For 90% of 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 Cincinnati, OH eye practice today to schedule an exam.