Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss among people over the age of 40 affecting a higher percentage of people than glaucoma, age related macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease combined. Over 22 million Americans are impacted by the disease and this amount is expected to rise above 30 million by 2020.
The term cataract refers to the clouding of the lens, which in turn blocks vision in the affected eye. Without treatment, as the disease progresses, vision will get increasingly blurry until permanent blindness occurs.
Causes Of Cataracts
As we age, proteins begin to clump together within the eye. Over time areas of the lens cloud over and vision becomes reduced. Although age and genetics are the primary causes of cataracts, lifestyle choices have also been shown to play a role in its progression including conditions such as:
Cataracts Signs & Symptoms
In its early stages, cataracts are barely noticeable. Over time vision will become more clouded and viewing objects from afar will become progressively difficult. Other symptoms to look out for include:
Sensitivity to light
Changes in eye color or discoloration
Difficulty seeing at night and occasional halos around bright objects
It’s important to stay vigilant and note any vision changes you have. Being open and honest with your Optometrist during your routine eye exam4 is the best way to stop the progression of cataracts.
Preventative research has yielded new results in the way of supplementation to potentially stop the onset of cataracts. Although research is still in its preliminary stages, the use of vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to reduce the risk of cataract development.
Once cataracts have advanced to the point where every day tasks are affected, surgery can be used to restore vision. During cataract surgery, cloudy tissue from the lens is removed and replaced with a clear plastic insert called an intraocular lens (IOL).
Surgery to remove cataracts is very successful, with 9/10 people report that their vision is restored to near 20/20. In the United States, more than 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery each year.
For those cases where a cataracts is less severe and not advancing at a fast pace, simple adjustments to your prescription can be made. With the supervision of your Optometrist, corrective lenses can be adjusted to provide clearer vision until the time when surgery is unavoidable.