Many people aren't aware that cataracts affect approximately 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In reality, more than half of senior citizens have some degree of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is when the ocular lens becomes clouded. The clouding prohibits the passage of light that is essential for proper eyesight.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Often adults associate loss of sight with age however cataracts do have certain symptoms that are different from regular age-related vision problems. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience blurred vision, increased glare from sun light or artificial light or a decrease in color vibrancy. Some cataracts show no symptoms until they are well developed while others may even result in what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
Cataract derives from the Latin cataracta meaning ''waterfall''. This may be because the appearance of white opacities in the lens are similar to the cloudy rush of water which also appears white. Senile cataracts, which occur in the elderly typically start off with an initial cloudiness in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens resulting in a total loss of transparency and loss of sight.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
There is not yet a fail-safe way to prevent cataracts but some say that reducing UV exposure your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research shows that antioxidants and limiting salt consumption can also be preventative.
Although early loss of sight can be helped with corrective devices such as eyeglasses or magnifying devices, eventually vision may deteriorate to a level to require surgery. Surgery for cataracts is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in the country and is usually a success. In the standard surgery, the surgeon takes out the opaque lens and replaces it with what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. For nine out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
If you are 40 or over it is important to book an annual eye examination to check for signs of eye diseases such as cataracts. Call our Lake Grove, NY optometry practice today to schedule your exam.