Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, and is a major cause of blindness globally. According to mycataracts.com, by age 65, cataracts can affect over 90% of people in the US. But what are cataracts?
Cataracts occur when the lens of your eye clouds up from natural proteins that build up over time. The lens is a clear part of your eye that helps focus light or an image on the retina and adjusts to allow the eye to see clearly at all distances. The retina is light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A clear lens is vital for the retina to receive a clear image. Cloudy lenses allow less light to pass through your eye, so vision becomes blurred. With age, the clear crystalline lens can start to cloud. Gradually vision will resemble looking through frosted glass. This clouding cannot be corrected with glasses or contacts.
Luckily, cataracts are completely common and very simple to treat. Early signs are sometimes hard to detect and they can affect every person differently. Here are some key side effects to keep an eye out for:
There is no way to prevent cataracts completely. However, making healthy choices can slow their development. Aside from common aging, smoking or certain diseases (like diabetes) and exposure to UV light can play into whether cataracts develop. As reported by National Eye Institute, by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. It can occur in either eye, but can’t be spread from one eye to another.
Early treatment can be improved with eyeglasses, brighter lighting, magnifying glass, anti-glare or polarized sunglasses. After those treatments stop working, cataract surgery is the only permanent effective treatment.
A cataract only needs to be removed when vision loss interferes with your everyday life. Our doctors are here to help you with this decision. There are benefits and risks to surgery, and delaying surgery will not cause long term damage to your eye. There is no need to rush into surgery. After surgery, your vision will be clearer, however, glasses may still be required to aid your sight and provide clearer vision. Even if glasses are not required, it is still important to have annual eye exams to monitor the health of your eyes.
Have more questions about your eye health or eye care options? Our team at Dr. Tavel is ready to help you through every part of your eye care journey. Early cataracts can be detected through a routine eye appointment. You can schedule an eye exam and talk to one of our doctors about your options.