Many individuals aren't aware that cataracts are the primary culprit for sight loss in individuals over 54. In truth, more than 50% of the population above 65 has some degree of cataracts.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. The clouding prevents the passage of light that is essential for proper eyesight.
Signs of cataracts
Often people over 40 associate loss of sight with age but cataracts do have certain symptoms that are distinct from normal age-related eyesight loss. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include hazy vision, increased glare from sun light or artificial light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some cataracts show no symptoms until they are more advanced while others may even result in a temporary improvement in near vision called ''second sight''.
Types of Cataracts
There are three main types of cataracts which are differentiated by the position within the lens. A subcapsular cataract occurs at the rear of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are especially common amongst individuals that have diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking large amounts of steroids. A cataract positioned in the central zone (nucleus) of the lens is called a nuclear cataract and is typically a result of increased age. The third type of cataract, a cortical cataract generally starts in the cortex of the lens, the part surrounding the nucleus. Cortical cataracts are characterized by cloudy blotches that start in the outer areas of the lens and work their way to the central area.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
There is no guaranteed way to prevent the development of cataracts but some say that reducing UV exposure your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies indicate that antioxidants and reduced salt consumption may also be preventative.
During the early stages, visual aids can help treat vision loss, however, at some point eyesight may be impaired enough to necessitate surgery. Cataract surgery is actually the most frequently performed surgery in America and is typically quite successful. In the standard surgery, the doctor removes the lens and implants what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. In 90% of patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
To ensure early diagnosis and treatment it is important to schedule an annual eye examination to detect signs of vision diseases such as cataracts. Contact our Rye Brook, NY optometry practice today to schedule your appointment.