Cataracts occur when the eyes’ lenses become clouded. They are the most common reason for vision loss in elderly patients, and there are more people worldwide afflicted with this condition than with macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Today, more than 22 million Americans aged 50 and over have the condition, and over 30 million more people are expected to have them by 2020, according to Prevent Blindness America. Here, patients can learn about the types, signs, symptoms, and treatment of cataracts.
- Subscapular. These occur at the rear of the lens. Those with diabetes or who are taking steroids are more likely to develop this type of cataract.
- Nuclear. These form deep in the center of the lens and are typically associated with aging.
- Cortical. These are characterized by opacities within the edges of the lens. They occur in the cortex, which is the part of the lens surrounding the nucleus.
Signs and Symptoms
Cataracts start small and, at first, they have little effect on a patient’s vision. Some patients may notice slight blurring in the initial stages. They may make light seem excessively bright, and some patients report problems with night vision when driving. The kind of cataract a patient has determines what type of symptoms they experience and when they occur. If patients think they are affected, they should schedule an exam with Dr. Goosey to find out.
The eye’s lens works like that on a camera, focusing light onto the retina. The lens adjusts the focus of the eye, letting patients see both far away and up close. Lenses are made mostly of protein and water but, as patients age, the proteins may start to stick together and cloud small parts of the lens. Over time, cataracts can grow larger and cloud a greater portion of the lens. Risk factors include:
- UV radiation
- Extreme nearsightedness
When a patient starts to experience symptoms, they may be able to improve their vision for a while using glasses, lighting, and other visual helpers. However, when a cataract has progressed sufficiently to affect daily life and impairs vision, the patient should consider surgery. Most people regard failing vision as part of aging, but cataract surgery by a corneal specialist offers a painless, simple way to regain lost eyesight.
Connect with Dr. Goosey’s office today, and learn more about World Blindness Awareness- October 2016.