Many adults aren't aware that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In reality, over 50% of senior citizens have some amount of cataracts.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is when the lens becomes clouded. This prevents the transmission of light that is essential for vision.
Symptoms of cataracts
Many adults associate loss of sight with getting older however cataracts do show a number of symptoms that are different from typical age-related eyesight loss. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience slightly hazy vision, sensitivity to light or a decrease in color vibrancy. Some types of cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are well developed while others may even show signs of what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
Cataracts can be sorted into three main categories which are categorized by where they are located within the lens. A cataract positioned toward the rear of the lens is called a subcapsular cataract. Subcapsular cataracts are especially common in people that have diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking high doses of steroids.A cataract located in the nucleus or center of the lens is called a nuclear cataract and is generally found in conjunction with normal aging. Finally, a cortical cataract typically starts 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.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
There is little you can do to prevent cataracts, other than protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses. Some studies suggest that antioxidants and limited salt consumption can also prevent development.
While early loss of sight can be treated with corrective devices such as eyeglasses or magnifying lenses, at some point vision will likely deteriorate to a level to require surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in the country and is typically very successful. Generally, the doctor takes out the opaque lens and implants a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). In nine out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
If you are 40 or over you should book a yearly eye exam to detect symptoms of vision diseases such as cataracts. Call our Memphis, TN optometry practice today to schedule your exam.