Many people don't know that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In truth, more than half of senior citizens have some degree of cataracts.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is when the lens, the part of the eye that focuses light to produce images, becomes clouded. The clouding inhibits the transmission of light needed for proper vision.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Cataracts are sometimes mistaken as normal age-related vision loss, yet there are some signs to look for that distinguish them. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include blurry vision, increased glare from sun light or artificial light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some cataracts show no symptoms until they are well developed while others may even show signs of a temporary improvement in near vision known as ''second sight''.
Cataracts can be broken down into three categories which are categorized by where they are positioned within the lens. A subcapsular cataract is found at the back of the lens. Subcapsular cataracts are especially common amongst people that have diabetes, extreme cases of farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking large amounts of steroids. A nuclear cataract is located at the nucleus or center of the lens and is generally associated with normal aging. The third type of cataract, a cortical cataract typically starts in the lens cortex, the area encircling the central nucleus. Cortical cataracts often start off with white opacities that start in the outer areas of the lens and gradually spread toward the central area.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Researchers have not yet determined surefire ways to prevent cataracts but some say that reducing UV exposure your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research indicates that taking antioxidants and reduced salt intake may also prevent development.
During the beginning stages, eyeglasses can be used to treat loss of sight, nevertheless, eventually vision may deteriorate to a level to require surgical treatment. Surgery for cataracts is in fact the most frequently performed surgery in America and is generally quite successful. Generally, the doctor takes out the clouded lens and implants a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). In 90% of patients, vision is restored to between 20/20 and 20/40.
To ensure early diagnosis and treatment it is important to book a yearly eye exam to check for signs of vision diseases such as cataracts. Call our Knoxville, TN eye practice today to schedule an exam.