Many adults aren't aware that cataracts affect approximately 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In truth, over 50% of senior citizens have some degree of cataract development.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's clear lens. The clouding prevents the passage of light that is essential for proper vision.
Symptoms of cataracts
Cataracts are sometimes mistaken as typical age-related sight loss, however there are a number of symptoms to look for that distinguish them. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience slightly hazy vision, increased glare from light or a decrease in the brightness of color. Some types of cataracts show no signs until they are more advanced while others may even show signs of a temporary improvement in near vision called ''second sight''.
Cataract comes from cataracta which means ''waterfall'' in Latin. This may be because the appearance of opaque clouds in the eye resembles the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. Senile cataracts, which occur in the elderly usually appear as an initial opacity in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens resulting in eventual blindness.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
There is not yet a guaranteed answer to avoid cataracts but some say that reducing UV exposure your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies suggest that antioxidants and reduced salt intake can also be preventative.
In the initial stages, vision correction can help improve loss of sight, however, eventually vision will likely deteriorate enough to necessitate surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is actually the most common surgery in the country and is typically very successful. In most cases, the doctor takes out the opaque lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. In 9 out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
Don't let vision problems go undiagnosed. An annual eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Call our Philadelphia, PA eye practice today to book your appointment.