A surprising number of people aren't aware that cataracts affect approximately 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In fact, over half of individuals over age sixty-five have some amount of cataract development.
What are cataracts?
Cataracts occur when the ocular lens, the part of the eye that focuses light to produce images, becomes clouded. This prevents the passage of light that is essential for proper eyesight.
Symptoms of cataracts
Many adults associate vision loss with getting older but cataracts do present some signs that are different from typical age-related vision problems. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience blurry vision, increased glare from light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some types of cataracts are completely asymptomatic until they are well developed while others may even result in a temporary improvement in near vision known as ''second sight''.
The term cataract derives from cataracta which means ''waterfall'' in Latin. This may be because the appearance of white opacities in the eye is similar to the cloudy rush of water which also appears white. Cataracts that develop as a result of aging usually show an initial opacity in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens leading to a total opacity and 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 with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research shows that antioxidants and reduced salt intake may also be preventative.
Although early vision loss can be helped with vision correction such as eyeglasses or magnifying lenses, eventually eyesight will likely deteriorate to a level to require surgical treatment. Surgery for cataracts is in fact the most common surgery in America and is usually a success. In the standard surgery, the doctor takes out the lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. In nine out of 10 patients, they are able to restore vision to between 20/20 and 20/40.
Don't let eye problems go undiagnosed. An annual eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Contact our Myrtle Beach, SC eye practice today to schedule an appointment.