Many adults don't know that cataracts affect approximately 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In truth, more than 50% of senior citizens have some degree of cataracts.
What are cataracts?
Cataracts occur when the ocular lens becomes clouded. This prohibits the passage of light necessary for proper vision.
How do I know I have cataracts?
Cataracts can often be brushed off as regular age-related sight decline, yet there are a number of symptoms that set them apart. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience slightly hazy vision, sensitivity to sun light or artificial light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some types of cataracts show no symptoms 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.
The term cataract originates from the Latin cataracta defined as ''waterfall''. This may be because the appearance of opaque clouds in the lens resembles the white cloudy rapids seen in a waterfall. Senile cataracts, which occur in the elderly usually are characterized by an initial cloudiness in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens leading to eventual blindness.
Cataract Prevention and Treatment
There is little you can do to prevent cataracts, other than protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays by using sunglasses. Some studies suggest that taking antioxidants and reducing consumption of salt can also be preventative.
While initial vision loss can be helped with corrective devices such as eyeglasses or magnifying devices, eventually vision will likely be impaired enough to necessitate surgery. Cataract surgery is in fact the most common surgery in America and is usually a success. In most cases, the doctor removes the opaque lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. For nine out of 10 patients, they are able to restore vision to between 20/20 and 20/40.
If you are 40 or over you should schedule a yearly eye exam to detect signs of eye diseases such as cataracts. Contact our Tupelo, MS optometry practice today to book an appointment.