Many individuals aren't aware that cataracts are the number one culprit for vision loss among people over the age of 54. In truth, more than half of individuals above sixty-five have some degree of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's clear lens. This inhibits the passage of light needed for proper vision.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Cataracts can often be brushed off as regular age-related vision loss, however there are a number of symptoms that distinguish them. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include blurry vision, increased glare from light or a decrease in color vibrancy. Some cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are well developed while others may even show signs of a temporary improvement in near vision called ''second sight''.
Types of Cataracts
There are three main types of cataracts which are categorized by where they are positioned within the lens. A subcapsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are especially common in people that have diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking large amounts of steroid medications. A cataract found in the central area (nucleus) of the lens is called a nuclear cataract and is generally a result of increased age. Finally, a cortical cataract usually is located in the cortex of the lens, the area that surrounds the central nucleus. Cortical cataracts are characterized by white opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and gradually spread toward the central area.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
Researchers have not determined fail-safe ways to avoid cataracts but some say that reducing ultraviolet exposure your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research shows that taking antioxidants and limiting consumption of salt can also be preventative.
While early vision loss can be treated using corrective devices such as eyeglasses or magnifying devices, eventually eyesight may deteriorate to a level to require surgical treatment. Surgery for cataracts is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in America and is usually very successful. In the standard surgery, the doctor removes the opaque lens and replaces it with what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. In 9 out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
If you are 40 or over it is important to schedule a yearly eye examination to check for symptoms of eye diseases such as cataracts. Call our Tucson, AZ eye practice today to book your exam.