A surprising number of individuals aren’t aware that cataracts affect approximately 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In reality, over 50% of senior citizens have some degree of cataract development.

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. This prohibits the passage of light that is essential for proper vision.

How do I know I have cataracts?

Often people over 40 attribute vision loss with getting older however cataracts do present a number of symptoms that are distinct from regular age-related eyesight problems. Depending on the type of cataract, symptoms include slightly hazy vision, increased glare from light or a decrease in the brightness of color. Some types of cataracts show no signs 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.

Types of Cataracts

There are three main types of cataracts which are differentiated by the position within the lens. A cataract positioned toward the back of the lens is referred to as a subcapsular cataract. Subcapsular cataracts are especially common in people with diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or are taking high doses of steroids.A nuclear cataract is located at the central area (nucleus) of the lens and is generally associated with growing older. Finally, a cortical cataract typically occurs in the lens cortex, the area surrounding the central nucleus. Cortical cataracts are characterized by white opacities that start in the outer areas of the lens and work their way to the center.

Cataract Prevention and Treatment

Researchers have not yet found surefire ways to avoid cataracts but some say that reducing ultraviolet exposure your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some studies suggest that taking antioxidants and reducing salt intake may also be preventative.

In the beginning stages, eyeglasses can be used to treat loss of sight, however, at some point vision will likely be impaired enough to necessitate surgery. Surgery for cataracts is in fact the most common surgery in America and is generally a success. Generally, the surgeon removes the clouded lens and replaces it with a clear plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens). In 90% of patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.

Don’t let vision problems go undiagnosed. A yearly eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Call our Scottsdale, AZ eye practice today to book an appointment.