Cataracts are an extremely prevalent age-related eye problem, and a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in this country. The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that 50 million adults in the United States will have cataracts by the year 2050. Left untreated, cataracts can significantly impair a person’s visual clarity and quality of life. The blurry, hazy vision caused by cataracts often robs people of their ability to perform everyday tasks and participate in their favorite hobbies. It can be difficult to enjoy an active lifestyle due to cataracts and their effects.
What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is a progressive clouding of the eye’s lens. A youthful lens is transparent, like a window, but with age the proteins that make up the lens can start to break down and clump together, creating cloudy or opaque areas. As light passes through the cloudy lens, it can no longer focus clearly on the retina. This results in a variety of visual symptoms.
Although the majority of cataracts are due to age-related changes within the eye, that is not the cause of every case. Other factors that can contribute to the development of cataracts include spending a lot of time in the sun without sunglasses, taking certain medications like corticosteroids and suffering an eye injury. Medical conditions like diabetes can also increase the risk of cataracts in younger people.
Symptoms of Cataracts
Cataracts can cause any of the following:
- Blurry or hazy vision
- Faded or yellowish colors
- Sensitivity to light
- Double vision
- Poor night vision
The symptoms of cataracts may seem mild at first, progressing slowly over time.
What to Do about Cataracts
There is no surefire way to avoid cataracts. Although protecting the eyes from the sun, eating a healthy diet and having regular eye exams are great practices for overall ocular health, they cannot prevent the development of cataracts. Most people get cataracts if they live long enough.
Not all cataracts are advanced enough to require treatment. It is only when the visual effects of cataracts start to interfere with daily life — for example, making it difficult to drive, read, sew or play golf — that it may be time to consider cataract treatment. There is no non-surgical way to treat cataracts; neither medication nor eyedrops can improve the clouding of the eye’s lens.
The only way to treat cataracts is through a surgical procedure. During the operation, the cloudy lens is removed from the eye and an artificial lens installed in its place to restore clear vision and focus. There are many different types of artificial lenses to choose from, each with unique features.
Research now shows that cataract surgery may prolong a person’s life. By improving visual clarity, cataract surgery makes it easier to practice healthy lifestyle habits, such as staying physically active, taking medication as prescribed and reducing the risk of falls and other life-threatening accidents.
Learn More about Cataracts
Dr. Gregory Johnson is happy to evaluate you for cataracts and thoroughly explain your treatment options. Please call (910) 777-8254 or email your questions to Intracoastal Eye today.