Cataracts are very common. They affect millions of people in the United States; in fact, they are the leading cause of vision loss in the country, and the leading cause of blindness in the world. The good news is that cataracts are manageable and very treatable. June has been declared Cataract Awareness Month by Prevent Blindness, so we will share some valuable information about cataracts to increase awareness.
What are Cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye which then prevents the passage of light into the eye and results in blurred or dimmed vision. The lens is what helps to focus an image onto the retina, which transmits the images to the brain. Cataracts usually develop as a natural result of the aging process and can occur in one or both eyes.
What are the Risk Factors for Cataracts?
Most of us will develop cataracts as we age. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss among adults 55 and older. Over half the population above the age 65 has some degree of cataract development.
Aside from aging, other risk factors to develop cataracts include long-term exposure to the UV rays from the sun, eye injuries, diabetes, long-term use of steroids and other medications, eye inflammation, and smoking.
What are the Symptoms of Cataracts?
During the early stages of the development of cataracts, you may not notice any symptoms. As they grow, they will cause changes in your vision. Here are some symptoms of cataracts:
- Blurry, clouded vision.
- Colors seem faded.
- Reduced night vision, especially when driving.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Seeing double.
- Frequent changes in the prescription for eyeglasses to see clearly.
What is the Treatment for Cataracts?
Age-related cataracts usually develop very slowly over time. During the early stages of cataract development, getting stronger prescriptions for eyeglasses and the use of better lighting can help. Once the cataracts progress to the point that the eyeglasses and lighting no longer help, cataract surgery will be recommended.
Cataract surgery is a very common procedure. By the age of 80, most people will have either developed a cataract or have had surgery to remove it. During cataract surgery, the clouded lens is removed and replaced with a clear, artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). Over 90 percent of people who have cataract surgery regain useful vision. Consult with your doctor at Vision Center, LTD or Waterbury Eye Associates to get more information about cataract surgery.
It is important for everyone to have regular eye exams, but as you age, you need to have a dilated eye exam at least once every year. The doctors at Vision Center LTD and Waterbury Eye Associates have the experience and latest in technology to diagnose and monitor the progression of cataracts, and if surgery is recommended, will refer you to a qualified, expert cataract surgeon and will co-manage the process.