Many adults don't know that cataracts are the number one cause of blindness for those over the age of 54. In fact, more than 50% 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 inhibits the transmission of light that is essential for eyesight.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Cataracts are sometimes brushed off as normal age-related vision decline, however there are some characteristics that set them apart. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience blurred vision, increased glare from sun light or artificial light or a decrease in the brightness of color. Some cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are more advanced while others may even show signs of a temporary improvement in near vision called ''second sight''.
Cataract derives from the Latin cataracta defined as ''waterfall''. This may be because the appearance of opaque clouds in the lens is similar to the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. Senile cataracts, which occur in the elderly typically are characterized by an initial opacity in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens leading to a complete opacity and blindness.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
There is no certain way to prevent cataracts but some say that reducing ultraviolet exposure your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies suggest that taking antioxidants and reduced salt consumption may also prevent development.
During the beginning stages, eyeglasses can be used to correct loss of sight, however, eventually vision will likely be impaired to a level to require surgical treatment. Surgery for cataracts is in fact the most common surgery in the US and is usually a success. Generally, the doctor removes the opaque lens and replaces it with what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. In nine out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
If you are 40 or over you should schedule a yearly eye exam to check for signs of eye diseases such as cataracts. Contact our Clarksville, IN eye practice today to book your exam.