A surprising number of adults don't know that cataracts are the number one cause of blindness in individuals 55 and over. In fact, more than half of the people over sixty-five have some amount of cataracts.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is when the lens becomes clouded. The clouding prohibits the transmission of light that is essential for proper eyesight.
Signs of cataracts
Cataracts are sometimes mistaken as typical age-related sight loss, yet there are a number of signs that set them apart. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience slightly blurred vision, increased glare from sun light or artificial light or a decrease in color vibrancy. Some cataracts show no signs until they are well developed while others may even result in what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
Cataract originates from the Latin cataracta which means ''waterfall''. This may be because the appearance of white opacities in the eye resembles the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. Cataracts that develop as a result of aging typically show an initial cloudiness in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens leading to eventual blindness.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
Researchers have not found fail-safe ways to avoid the development of cataracts but some say that guarding your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies indicate that taking antioxidants and limited consumption of salt can also play a role in prevention.
During the early stages, visual aids can help improve loss of sight, nevertheless, at some point vision will likely deteriorate to a level to necessitate surgery. Surgery for cataracts is actually the most frequently performed surgery in the US and is typically quite successful. In the standard surgery, the surgeon takes out 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.
To ensure early diagnosis and treatment you should book an annual eye exam to check for signs of vision diseases such as cataracts. Contact our Lexington, KY optometry practice today to book an exam.