Did you know that by age 80, more than half of all Americans have had a cataract? As we age, we grow increasingly susceptible to having cataracts. The good news though is that they are not spread from one eye to the other.
We’ve probably heard the term cataract either from our doctor or people we know—but what exactly is a cataract? Simply put it is a clouding of the intra-ocular lens that affects our vision. Cataracts typically develop slowly over time, so you may not notice the cloudy vision right away. As they progress, they can also add a tint to our vision causing difficulties with reading or other tasks.
What causes us to develop cataracts? There are several types of cataracts but the most common age-related cause is related to the protein in our lens. Our lens consists of mostly protein and water. As we age, some of the protein clumps together and clouds a small area of the lens. In addition to be at a higher risk because of our age, smoking, diabetes and prolonged exposure to sunlight are also known to increase our chances of developing cataracts over time.
How will we know if we have a cataract? Most likely the symptoms will include cloudy or blurry vision, faded colors, glare from light, and poor night vision. However, it is best to consult an eye doctor immediately as these symptoms can also be related to other eye-related problems.
What are the treatment options once diagnosed with a cataract? There are several options. If the cataract is caught early --- new glasses and brighter lights can help. However, surgery is the only effective treatment once those interventions no longer work. Surgery consists of removing the existing lens and replacing it with an artificial one. As with any medical recommendation, always check with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for you.