Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in individuals over age 40 and the number one cause of blindness in the world. Cataract Awareness Month is a great time to learn more about the eye disease, including how it’s treated. Here, the trusted team at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons shares five facts about cataracts.
Cataracts Begin Small
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens caused by proteins clumping together and impairing clear vision. This process usually occurs very gradually and the clouding begins small. As the disease progresses, the clouding becomes larger. Early stages of cataracts usually do not have any visible symptoms, but advanced stages can produce any of the following:
- Blurry vision
- Poor night vision
- Light sensitivity
- Double vision
- Dim colors
Cataracts Can Be Detected Via a Routine Eye Exam
Because early stages of cataracts are typically asymptomatic, routine eye exams are extremely important in order to catch the eye disease in its early stages. The earlier cataracts are detected, the sooner they can be treated. Your eye doctor can monitor your cataracts and determine the appropriate treatment, including when surgical removal is necessary.
Age Isn’t the Only Risk Factor for Cataracts
Age is the most common cause of cataracts but not the only one. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, are linked to a higher risk of developing cataracts. Extensive exposure to UV light, smoking and obesity are also associated with cataracts as are eye injuries, prior eye surgeries and long-term use of steroid medication.
Cataracts cannot be prevented but there are several things you can do to delay their development, such as wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, not smoking and eating a healthy diet rich in eye-friendly nutrients (e.g., lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C).
Removing Cataracts Can Improve Quality of Life
There is no cure for cataracts. The only way to remove cataracts is through surgical intervention. During cataract surgery, the clouded lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens that restores clear vision.
In addition to improving vision, cataract surgery can also improve quality of life. Some studies show that cataract surgery can reduce the risk of falling and automobile accidents. With crisper, clearer vision, many patients feel more motivated to enjoy activities that were difficult or uncomfortable to do with cataracts.
Cataract Surgery Is Safe and Common
Surgery may sound intimidating at first but cataract patients should know that the procedure is very safe and successful. Cataract eye surgery is the most common surgical procedure in the U.S., and more than 95 percent of patients achieve better vision after surgery.
If you have been diagnosed with cataracts or suspect your blurry vision is a result of cataracts, schedule a consultation with one of the eye doctors at Berks Eye Physicians. Contact us by calling or emailing our office today.