Many adults aren't aware that cataracts are the leading cause of sight loss for individuals over the age of 54. In fact, over 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 prevents the transmission of light needed for eyesight.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Cataracts are sometimes brushed off as regular age-related sight loss, yet there are a number of characteristics to look for that set them apart. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include slightly blurry vision, sensitivity to light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some cataracts show no symptoms until they are well developed while others may even result in what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
There are three main types of cataracts which are distinguished by the position within the lens. A cataract found near the back of the lens is referred to as a subcapsular cataract. Subcapsular cataracts are a higher risk for people that have diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking high doses of steroid medications. A cataract positioned in the nucleus or center of the lens is categorized as a nuclear cataract and is typically associated with increased age. The third type of cataract, a cortical cataract typically occurs in the lens cortex, the part that surrounds the central nucleus. Cortical cataracts often start off with cloudy blotches that start in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the nucleus.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Researchers have not yet found surefire ways to prevent cataracts but some say that protecting your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research shows that antioxidants and limited consumption of salt may also play a role in prevention.
Although initial vision loss can be helped with visual aids such as eyeglasses or magnifying devices, at some point vision will likely deteriorate enough to necessitate surgery. Cataract surgery is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in the United States and is generally very successful. In most cases, the doctor takes out the clouded lens and replaces it with what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. In 90% of patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
Don't let vision diseases go undiagnosed. A yearly eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Call our North Vancouver, BC optometry practice today to schedule an appointment.