A surprising number of don't know that cataracts are the number one culprit for vision loss among adults 55 and over. In truth, over half of senior citizens have some amount of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is when the lens, the portion of the eye that focuses light to create images, becomes clouded. This prevents the transmission of light that is essential for eyesight.
Signs of cataracts
Often adults associate vision loss with getting older but cataracts do show certain signs that are different from normal age-related eyesight loss. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience slightly blurry vision, increased glare from sun light or artificial light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are well developed while others may even show signs of a short-lived improvement in near vision known as ''second sight''.
Cataract derives from cataracta which means ''waterfall'' in Latin. This may be because the appearance of white opacities in the lens is similar to the cloudy rush of water which also appears white. Cataracts that develop as a result of aging typically show an initial cloudiness in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens leading to eventual blindness.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
There is little you can do to prevent cataracts, other than protect your eyes from UV exposure by using sunglasses. Some research shows that taking antioxidants and limited salt intake may also play a role in prevention.
While initial loss of sight can be helped using vision correction such as glasses or magnifying devices, eventually eyesight will likely deteriorate enough to require surgical treatment. Surgery for cataracts is in fact the most common surgery in the United States and is typically a success. Generally, the doctor removes the opaque lens and implants a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). In 90% of patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
If you are 40 or over it is important to book an annual eye examination to detect signs of eye diseases such as cataracts. Call our Fayetteville, NC eye practice today to schedule an exam.