Many individuals aren't aware that cataracts are the leading culprit for vision loss among adults over the age of 54. In fact, more than 50% of individuals above age sixty-five have some degree of cataract development.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's clear lens. This inhibits the transmission of light that is essential for vision.
Symptoms of cataracts
Often people over 40 associate loss of sight with getting older but cataracts do show some symptoms that are distinct from typical age-related vision problems. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience hazy vision, sensitivity to sun light or artificial light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are more advanced while others may even result in what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
Cataracts are broken down into three main types which are categorized by where they are located within the lens. A subcapsular cataract is found at the back of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are especially common amongst individuals that have diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are prescribed high doses of steroids. A cataract found in the nucleus or center of the lens is categorized as a nuclear cataract and is generally a result of growing older. Finally, a cortical cataract typically is located in the cortex of the lens, the area that surrounds the central nucleus. Cortical cataracts often start off with white opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the central area.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
Researchers have not yet found fail-safe ways to avoid the development of cataracts but some say that protecting your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies indicate that antioxidants and limiting consumption of salt may also prevent development.
While initial vision loss can be helped with corrective devices such as glasses or magnifying lenses, at some point eyesight may be impaired to a level to require surgical treatment. Surgery for cataracts is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in the US and is generally quite successful. In the standard surgery, the doctor takes out the clouded lens and replaces it with 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 a yearly eye exam to detect symptoms of eye diseases such as cataracts. Contact our Saginaw, MI eye practice today to schedule an exam.