A surprising number of people aren't aware that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In fact, over half of senior citizens have some amount of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
Cataracts occur when the ocular lens, the part of the eye that focuses light to produce images, becomes clouded. This prohibits the passage of light necessary for vision.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Often people over 40 associate loss of sight with age but cataracts do show certain signs that are different from normal age-related vision problems. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience slightly blurred vision, increased glare from sunlight or artificial light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some types of cataracts are completely asymptomatic 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.
Types of Cataracts
Cataracts are broken down into three types which are distinguished by the position within the lens. A cataract located toward the rear of the lens is referred to as a subcapsular cataract. Subcapsular cataracts are an increased risk for people that have diabetes, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking large amounts of steroid medications. A cataract found in the nucleus or center of the lens is called a nuclear cataract and is usually associated with increased age. Finally, a cortical cataract usually is located in the cortex of the lens, the area 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 center.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Researchers have not found fail-safe ways to prevent cataracts but some say that reducing ultraviolet exposure your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research shows that taking antioxidants and limiting consumption of salt can also be preventative.
During the early stages, vision correction can be used to improve loss of sight, nevertheless, eventually vision may deteriorate to a level to necessitate surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in the US and is usually a success. In most cases, the surgeon takes out the opaque lens and replaces it with what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. In 9 out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
Don't let vision diseases go undiagnosed. A yearly eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Contact our Mill Creek, WA eye practice today to book your exam.