A surprising number of aren’t aware that cataracts affect approximately 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In reality, over half of senior citizens have some amount of cataract development.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s clear lens. The clouding prevents the passage of light that is essential for proper eyesight.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Often people over 40 associate vision loss with getting older however cataracts do show certain signs that are different from regular age-related vision problems. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include slightly blurry vision, increased glare from sun light or artificial light or a decrease in the brightness of color. Some types of cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are more advanced while others may even result in what is known as second sight” or a temporary improvement in near vision.
The term cataract derives from cataracta which means ”waterfall” in Latin. This may be because the appearance of white opacities in the lens resemble the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. Cataracts that develop as a result of aging typically show an initial opacity in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens leading to a total opacity and loss of sight.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
There is little you can do to prevent cataracts, other than guard your eyes from ultraviolet rays by wearing sunglasses. Some research suggests that antioxidants and limiting salt consumption can also play a role in prevention.
In the initial stages, vision correction can help correct vision loss, however, eventually eyesight may be impaired enough to require surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is actually the most common surgery in America and is typically a success. In most cases, the surgeon takes out the opaque lens and replaces it with a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). In nine 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 detect symptoms of eye diseases such as cataracts. Contact our Crystal Lake, IL eye practice today to book your appointment.