Many individuals aren't aware that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In truth, more than 50% of adults above sixty-five have some degree of cataract development.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. This prohibits the transmission of light necessary for proper eyesight.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Many people over 40 attribute vision loss with age however cataracts do have some symptoms that are different from typical age-related vision loss. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience blurry vision, sensitivity to light or a decrease in the brightness of color. 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 opaque clouds in the lens are similar to the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. 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
Researchers have not determined surefire ways to avoid cataracts but some say that guarding your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research suggests that antioxidants and limiting consumption of salt may also be preventative.
During the early stages, visual aids can be used to treat vision loss, however, at some point eyesight will likely deteriorate enough to require surgery. Cataract surgery is actually the most frequently performed surgery in the US and is typically quite successful. Generally, the doctor takes out the lens and replaces it with what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. For nine out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
If you are 40 or over you should schedule a yearly eye examination to detect signs of eye diseases such as cataracts. Call our Manasquan, NJ optometry practice today to schedule an exam.