A surprising number of individuals aren't aware that cataracts are the primary culprit for blindness for individuals 55 and over. In truth, over 50% of the population above age 65 have some amount of cataract development.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. This prevents the transmission of light that is essential for eyesight.
Symptoms of cataracts
Many people over 40 attribute loss of sight with getting older however cataracts do show a number of symptoms that are distinct from regular age-related vision problems. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include slightly hazy vision, increased glare from light or a decrease in color vibrancy. Some cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are more advanced while others may even show signs of a short-lived improvement in near vision known as ''second sight''.
The term cataract comes from cataracta which means ''waterfall'' in Latin. This may be because the appearance of opaque clouds in the lens resembles the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. Cataracts that develop as a result of aging typically are characterized by an initial opacity in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens resulting in eventual blindness.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
Researchers have not found surefire ways to avoid cataracts but some say that reducing ultraviolet exposure your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research shows that antioxidants and reduced salt intake can also prevent development.
In the initial stages, visual aids can help improve vision loss, however, at some point eyesight may be impaired to a level to require surgery. Cataract surgery is actually the most frequently performed surgery in the United States and is typically a success. In most cases, the doctor takes out the opaque lens and implants what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. In nine out of 10 patients, they are able to restore vision to between 20/20 and 20/40.
Don't let vision problems go undiagnosed. An annual eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Call our Lambertville, NJ eye practice today to book an exam.