Many people don't know that cataracts affect over 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In reality, more than half of the population above age sixty-five has some degree of cataracts.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. This prohibits the transmission of light needed for proper eyesight.
Signs of cataracts
Cataracts are often mistaken as regular age-related vision loss, however there are certain signs to look for that characterize them. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include blurry vision, increased glare from light or a decrease in the brightness of color. Some types of cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are well developed while others may even show signs of what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.
Cataract originates from cataracta which means ''waterfall'' in Latin. This may be because the appearance of opaque clouds in the lens is similar to the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. Senile cataracts, which occur in the elderly usually start off with an initial cloudiness in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens resulting in eventual blindness.
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Researchers have not found surefire ways to prevent the development of cataracts but some say that guarding your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research shows that antioxidants and limiting salt consumption can also play a role in prevention.
In the initial stages, vision correction can be used to improve vision loss, however, eventually eyesight may deteriorate enough to necessitate surgery. Surgery for cataracts is actually the most common surgery in the US and is generally very successful. In most cases, the doctor takes out the clouded lens and implants what is called an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. For 9 out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.
Don't let eye problems go untreated. An annual eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Call our Olathe, KS eye practice today to schedule your appointment.