Many individuals don't know that cataracts are the leading culprit for vision loss in individuals 55 and over. In truth, more than 50% of the people above 65 have some degree of cataract development.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. This inhibits the passage of light that is essential for vision.
Symptoms of cataracts
Often people over 40 associate vision loss with getting older however cataracts do present some symptoms that are different from normal age-related vision loss. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience blurred vision, sensitivity to sun light or artificial light or a decrease in the brightness of color. Some types of cataracts show no signs until they are well developed while others may even show signs of what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
Types of Cataracts
Cataracts can be classified by three main categories which are distinguished by the position within the lens. A subcapsular cataract occurs at the rear of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are particularly common amongst people with diabetes, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking large amounts of steroid medications. A nuclear cataract is a cataract positioned at the central area (nucleus) of the lens and is generally a result of growing older. The third type of cataract, a cortical cataract typically occurs in the lens cortex, the area encircling the central nucleus. Cortical cataracts are characterized by white opacities that start in the outer areas of the lens and work their way to the nucleus.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
There is not yet a fail-safe answer to prevent the development of cataracts but some say that guarding your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research suggests that taking antioxidants and reduced consumption of salt can also be preventative.
In the beginning stages, visual aids can help treat vision loss, nevertheless, eventually eyesight will likely deteriorate enough to require surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is in fact the most common surgery in the US and is usually a success. In most cases, the doctor takes out the lens and implants a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). In 90% of patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
To ensure early diagnosis and treatment you should book an annual eye examination to detect symptoms of eye diseases such as cataracts. Call our Potomac, MD eye practice today to schedule your appointment.