A surprising number of aren't aware that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In truth, over half of senior citizens have some degree of cataract development.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. The clouding inhibits the transmission of light necessary for vision.
Signs of cataracts
Many adults attribute loss of sight with age but cataracts do show some signs that are distinct from regular age-related vision loss. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include hazy vision, sensitivity to light or a decrease in the brightness of color. Some types of cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are well developed while others may even result in a temporary improvement in near vision known as ''second sight''.
Cataract originates from cataracta which means ''waterfall'' in Latin. This may be because the appearance of opaque clouds in the eye resemble the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. Cataracts that develop as a result of aging usually show an initial opacity in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens leading to eventual blindness.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Researchers have not yet found surefire ways to prevent cataracts but some say that guarding your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research shows that antioxidants and reduced consumption of salt can also play a role in prevention.
Although initial vision loss can be helped using vision correction such as glasses or magnifying lenses, eventually vision may be impaired enough to necessitate surgery. Surgery for cataracts is in fact the most common surgery in America and is usually a success. In the standard surgery, the surgeon removes the lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. In 9 out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
Don't let vision diseases go untreated. An annual eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Call our Hamburg, MI optometry practice today to schedule your exam.