Many people aren't aware that cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss among those 55 and over. In fact, over half of the people over 65 have some degree of cataracts.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is when the ocular lens, the part of the eye that focuses light to produce images, becomes clouded. The clouding prevents the transmission of light needed for proper eyesight.
Signs of cataracts
Cataracts are often mistaken as typical age-related vision decline, yet there are some signs that distinguish them. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include blurred vision, increased glare from light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some types of cataracts show no signs until they are more advanced while others may even result in a short-lived improvement in near vision known as ''second sight''.
There are three main types of cataracts which are categorized by where they are located within the lens. A subcapsular cataract is found at the rear of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are an increased risk for individuals with diabetes, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking large amounts of steroid medications.A nuclear cataract is a cataract found at the central zone (nucleus) of the lens and is generally associated with aging. Finally, a cortical cataract typically occurs in the lens cortex, the part surrounding the nucleus. Cortical cataracts often start off with cloudy blotches that start in the periphery of the lens and gradually spread toward the nucleus.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
There is little you can do to prevent cataracts, other than guard your eyes from UV exposure by wearing sunglasses. Some research indicates that antioxidants and limiting salt consumption can also play a role in prevention.
Although early vision loss can be treated using corrective devices such as glasses or magnifying lenses, eventually eyesight will likely be impaired to a level to necessitate surgery. Cataract surgery is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in the US and is generally a success. In most cases, the doctor removes the opaque lens and replaces it with what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. For 9 out of 10 patients, vision is restored to between 20/20 and 20/40.
Don't let eye problems go undiagnosed. An annual eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Call our Plano, TX eye practice today to book your exam.