More than half of all Americans who reach the age of 80 will develop cataracts or require cataract surgery, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. A cataract is a sort of cloudiness that develops in your eye as you age. The process of developing the condition is usually slow and progressive, rather than a sudden change in vision. If left untreated, cataracts can result in complete loss of eyesight as the cloudiness worsens over time eventually blocking the passage of all light into the eye.
It is important that if you notice any change in your eyesight, regardless of whether you suspect it to be cataracts or not, that you seek out the advice of an eye care specialist who can properly diagnose your condition and discuss appropriate treatment options available for you.
What Causes Cataracts?
A cataract, which can develop in one or both eyes, occurs when aging or injury affects the tissues in the lens of your eye. As the eye lens tissue becomes less flexible, thicker, and more opaque, this affects vision clarity. There are a number of ways in which an individual can develop a cataract. Aside from the most common cause of aging, cataracts can also develop from significant exposure to ultra-violet lights, or as a result of medical problems like diabetes, hypertension, or even some kind of trauma. There is also a belief in the medical field that certain medications, particularly corticosteroids and quetiapine, can cause cataracts, too.
What are the Symptoms of a Cataract?
Symptoms of cataracts include:
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Decreased ability to see at night
- Changes with contrast sensitivity (colors, contours, and shadows do not look as vivid as they used to)
- Seeing a halo, especially out of just one eye, around street lights at night
- Frequent changes to your eye wear prescription
Preserving Your Eyesight
Surgery that will rectify cataracts can, luckily, be performed at any stage of development. The most common type of cataract surgery is known as extra-capsular cataract extraction (ECCE) where the lens that has become cloudy is removed, while the capsule in which it resides is left largely intact. There is also the less common intra-capsular cataract extraction (ICCE) where both the lens and capsule are removed entirely. Once the cloudy lens has been removed, it is replaced with a plastic lens implant that will remain in the eye permanently.
Surgical procedures to correct cataracts are very common. The surgery usually uses a mild sedative, is painless, and can be completed in 20 to 30 minutes. Most patients are able to go get up and get around on their own almost immediately after the procedure. You should have no major concerns about undergoing this treatment option if a trained professional recommends it for you.
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- License: Creative Commons image source
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Helen Hoefele is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow her at: @For_You_To_Know.