Many adults aren't aware that cataracts affect approximately 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In truth, over half of senior citizens have some degree of cataracts.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. The clouding inhibits the transmission of light necessary for proper vision.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Many people over 40 associate vision loss with age however cataracts do present certain signs that are different from regular age-related vision problems. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include hazy vision, sensitivity to light or a decrease in the brightness of color. Some cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are more advanced while others may even show signs of what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
Types of Cataracts
There are three types of cataracts which are categorized by the position within the lens. A cataract found at the back of the lens is referred to as a subcapsular cataract. Subcapsular cataracts are particularly common in individuals with diabetes, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking high doses of steroid medications. A nuclear cataract is a cataract positioned at the center (nucleus) of the lens and is generally associated with growing older. Finally, a cortical cataract generally starts in the lens cortex, the area encircling the nucleus. Cortical cataracts often start off with white opacities that start in the outer areas of the lens and work their way to the center.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Researchers have not determined guaranteed ways to prevent the development of cataracts but some say that guarding your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research shows that antioxidants and limiting salt intake may also play a role in prevention.
In the beginning stages, eyeglasses can be used to treat vision loss, nevertheless, eventually eyesight may deteriorate to a level to necessitate surgery. Cataract surgery is actually the most frequently performed surgery in America and is generally a success. Generally, the surgeon takes out the opaque lens and implants an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. In 90% of patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
If you are 40 or over it is important to schedule an annual eye examination to check for symptoms of eye diseases such as cataracts. Contact our Squamish or West Vancouver optometry practice today to schedule an appointment.