Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness among older adults in the United States. In fact, more than half of all Americans have cataracts by the time they are 80 years old.
We understand you may have questions about cataracts, so we’d like to take this opportunity to help you understand how they affect your vision, what steps you can take to prevent them, and what treatment is available.
What is a cataract?
Put simply, a cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. This clouding changes or obstructs the passage of light into the eye and through to the retina, making vision blurry or dim.
Our eye’s lens behaves much like the lens in a camera. When a camera’s lens is dirty from obstructions like dust or oil from stray fingerprints, light can’t easily pass through the lens and images will appear dull and cloudy. Once a camera’s lens is cleaned, more light is able to pass through to the camera’s sensors, helping images become more bright, crisp, and vibrant—much like a cataract-free lens in our eye.
Cataracts Offer Many Signs And Symptoms
Cataracts often begin small and go largely unnoticed. Over time, they grow larger and your vision may become dull or blurry, much like images from the smudged camera lens we discussed earlier. Here are some common symptoms of cataracts:
- Clouded, blurred or dim vision
- Increasing difficulty with vision at night
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Seeing “halos” around lights
- Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
- Fading or yellowing of colors
- Double vision in a single eye
Cataracts Aren’t Just Caused By Advanced Age
There are several potential causes for cataracts, but most are due to age-related changes in the lens. That being said, some risk factors include:
- UV radiation
- Family history
- Significant alcohol consumption
Prevention And Treatment Can Lead To Clear Vision
Cataracts can’t always be prevented, but simple practices can be put in place to maintain and promote healthy vision. Always remember to eat a nutrient-rich diet filled with fruits and vegetables, and be sure to protect yourself from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses and hats during outdoor activity.
Fortunately, when cataracts cannot be prevented, they can be treated with full restoration of vision. Early symptoms may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, or anti-glare sunglasses. If these measures do not help, surgery is the only effective treatment.
Surgical cataract removal is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States. It is a simple and highly successful procedure that consists of removing the clouded lens from the eye and replacing it with a clear, artificial lens. While each person heals differently, many patients report clear vision within hours of the surgery.
We Care About Your Lifelong Health
As your lifelong care provider, we are committed to helping you through every stage of life. As you age, watch for changes in your vision, as well as for signs of cataracts. If you have any questions, feel free to let us know or make an appointment today. We want to make sure you get the most accurate information and excellent care for your individual needs!