Many adults don't know that cataracts affect approximately 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In fact, over 50% of the people above age sixty-five have some degree of cataract development.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is when the ocular lens, the part of the eye that focuses light to create images, becomes clouded. The clouding inhibits the transmission of light needed for eyesight.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Often adults associate vision loss with getting older however cataracts do show some signs that are distinct from regular age-related vision loss. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include slightly blurred vision, sensitivity to sun light or artificial light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some cataracts show no signs until they are more advanced while others may even result in what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
Types of Cataracts
There are three types of cataracts which are differentiated by where they are positioned within the lens. A cataract found near the rear of the lens is called a subcapsular cataract. Subcapsular cataracts are a higher risk for individuals with diabetes, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are prescribed large amounts of steroids. A nuclear cataract is a cataract found at the center (nucleus) of the lens and is generally found in conjunction with aging. Finally, a cortical cataract usually is located in the cortex of the lens, the part that surrounds the central nucleus. Cortical cataracts often start off with white opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and gradually spread toward the center.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
There is no surefire answer to avoid the development of cataracts but some say that reducing UV exposure your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research indicates that antioxidants and reducing consumption of salt may also be preventative.
In the initial stages, eyeglasses can help correct vision loss, however, at some point eyesight may be impaired enough to require surgery. Cataract surgery is actually the most frequently performed surgery in the US and is generally a success. Generally, the doctor takes out the opaque lens and implants a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). For 90% of patients, vision is restored to between 20/20 and 20/40.
Don't let eye diseases go untreated. An annual eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Contact our Manhattan, NY eye practice today to schedule an appointment.