We all know that certain physical changes are a natural part of life. Lower back pain, headaches, osteoarthritis, joint pain and carpel tunnel are some of the most common signs of aging. Just as our physical strength decreases with time, our eyes also undergo changes in performance.
Cataracts are the main cause of impaired vision worldwide, particularly in developing countries. They affect men and women equally.
Simply put, a cataract is a “clouding” of the natural lens in your eye, located inside the eye behind the iris or the colored part of the eye. Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision.
People with cataracts usually notice cloudy vision or halos around sources of light, especially when driving at night. If left untreated, cataracts will worsen over time and may lead to permanent vision loss or even blindness.
Cataracts are common in older adults. About half of all Americans will either have cataracts or have had cataract surgery by the time they reach age 80.
Cataract is detected through a comprehensive eye exam that can include a visual acuity test, dilated eye exam and tonometry.
Early symptoms of cataract may be corrected with eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses or magnifying lenses. If the above steps don’t improve the vision of a person with cataracts, surgery is the only effective treatment option. Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy tissue from the internal part of the lens, and leaving part of the lens capsule behind to act as a support for an implant called an intraocular lens.
Cataract surgery may be scary but the procedure isn’t as frightening as it sounds. Cataract procedures are among the most common surgeries performed in the U.S. Most patients recover in just a few weeks, and many have improved eyesight after a few days. Recent advances have allowed doctors to tailor new lenses to patients and help reduce the need for eyeglasses after surgery. Cataract surgery can quickly restore vision and is considered very cost effective.
To screen for early signs of eye disease, ophthalmologists recommend having a dilated eye exam at age 40, even if your vision seems fine. Once you’re in your 60s, a dilated eye exam is usually advised every year.
Common Cataract Symptoms
Check with an eye care professional if you have any of these symptoms. They may also signal other eye problems:
- Clouded, blurred or dim vision.
- Fading or yellowing of colors.
- Sensitivity to light and glare.
- “Halos” around lights.
- Poor night vision.
- Double vision or multiple images in one eye.
Source: NIH News in Health, August 2013, published by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services. For more information go to http://www.newsinhealth.nih.gov