Many individuals don't know that cataracts are the primary culprit for vision loss amongst those over 54. In truth, over half of senior citizens have some amount of cataracts.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. The clouding prevents the passage of light needed for proper vision.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Often people over 40 associate loss of sight with age but cataracts do present some signs that are different from typical age-related vision loss. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include hazy vision, sensitivity to light or a noticeable dullness of colors. 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.
There are three types of cataracts which are differentiated by the location 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, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are prescribed large amounts of steroid medications.A nuclear cataract is positioned at the nucleus or center of the lens and is generally associated with increased age. Finally, a cortical cataract typically starts in the cortex of the lens, the part surrounding the nucleus. Cortical cataracts often start off with cloudy blotches that start in the outer areas of the lens and work their way to the center.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
There is no fail-safe way to prevent cataracts but some say that reducing ultraviolet exposure your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research shows that taking antioxidants and reducing consumption of salt can also prevent development.
During the beginning stages, eyeglasses can be used to treat vision loss, however, eventually vision will likely be impaired to a level to require surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in the US and is usually a success. Generally, the surgeon takes out the opaque lens and replaces it with a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). For 9 out of 10 patients, they are able to restore vision to between 20/20 and 20/40.
To ensure early diagnosis and treatment it is important to schedule a yearly eye examination to detect signs of eye diseases such as cataracts. Contact our Austin, TX optometry practice today to schedule your appointment.