A surprising number of adults aren't aware that cataracts are the primary cause of blindness amongst people over 54. In truth, more than 50% of senior citizens have some degree of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is when the ocular lens, the portion of the eye that focuses light to create images, becomes clouded. This prohibits the passage of light needed for proper eyesight.
Signs of cataracts
Cataracts are often mistaken as typical age-related vision loss, yet there are certain characteristics to look for that set them apart. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience slightly blurry vision, increased glare from light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some cataracts show no symptoms until they are more advanced while others may even show signs of a temporary improvement in near vision known as ''second sight''.
Types of Cataracts
There are three main types of cataracts which are distinguished by the position within the lens. A cataract positioned at the back of the lens is referred to as a subcapsular cataract. Subcapsular cataracts are especially common amongst people with diabetes, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are prescribed large amounts of steroid medications. A cataract found in the center (nucleus) of the lens is categorized as a nuclear cataract and is typically found in conjunction with growing older. The third type of cataract, a cortical cataract generally is located in the lens cortex, the area encircling the central nucleus. Cortical cataracts are characterized by white opacities that start in the outer areas of the lens and work their way to the central area.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Researchers have not yet found guaranteed ways to prevent the development of cataracts but some say that protecting your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies indicate that taking antioxidants and reduced salt consumption can also play a role in prevention.
Although initial loss of sight can be treated with vision correction such as eyeglasses or magnifying lenses, eventually eyesight may be impaired to a level to require surgery. Surgery for cataracts is actually the most common surgery in America and is generally quite successful. Generally, the surgeon takes out the lens and implants an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. For nine out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
Don't let eye problems go untreated. A yearly eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Contact our Bronx, NY eye practice today to schedule an exam.