Many adults don't know that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In fact, over half of the population above 65 has some degree of cataract development.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's clear lens. This prohibits the passage of light necessary for eyesight.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Often people over 40 attribute loss of sight with age but cataracts do show a number of symptoms that are different from regular age-related eyesight problems. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience slightly hazy vision, increased glare from light or a decrease in the brightness of color. Some types of cataracts show no signs until they are more advanced while others may even result in what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
The word cataract derives from the Latin cataracta defined as ''waterfall''. This may be because the appearance of opaque clouds in the lens resembles the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. Cataracts that develop as a result of aging typically appear as an initial opacity 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 the development of cataracts but some say that protecting your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies show that antioxidants and limiting consumption of salt may also be preventative.
Although initial loss of sight can be helped using vision correction such as glasses or magnifying lenses, at some point vision may be impaired enough to necessitate surgery. Cataract surgery is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in America and is generally quite successful. In the standard surgery, the surgeon takes out the lens and replaces it with a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). For 90% of patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
Don't let eye diseases go untreated. An annual eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Contact our Winston Salem, NC optometry practice today to book your appointment.