Many people don't know that cataracts are the number one culprit for vision loss among people 55 and over. In fact, over half of adults over age sixty-five have some amount of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. The clouding prohibits the transmission of light needed for vision.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Cataracts are often mistaken as regular age-related sight loss, however there are a number of symptoms that set them apart. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include blurred vision, increased glare from sun light or artificial light or a decrease in color vibrancy. Some types of cataracts show no signs until they are well developed while others may even show signs of a short-lived improvement in near vision known as ''second sight''.
Types of Cataracts
Cataracts are sorted into three types which are categorized by the position within the lens. A subcapsular cataract occurs at the rear of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are an increased risk for individuals with diabetes, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are prescribed high doses of steroids. A cataract positioned in the nucleus or center of the lens is categorized as a nuclear cataract and is generally a result of increased age. The third type of cataract, a cortical cataract generally occurs in the cortex of the lens, the part surrounding 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 central area.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
There is little you can do to prevent cataracts, other than guard your eyes from ultraviolet exposure by wearing sunglasses. Some research shows that antioxidants and reduced consumption of salt can also play a role in prevention.
In the beginning stages, vision correction can be used to correct vision loss, however, at some point vision may be impaired enough to necessitate surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in America and is usually a success. In the standard surgery, the surgeon takes out the clouded lens and replaces it with a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). In 90% of patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
To ensure early diagnosis and treatment it is important to schedule a yearly eye examination to detect symptoms of vision diseases such as cataracts. Contact our Philadelphia, PA eye practice today to book your appointment.