Many body parts begin to change as you age, and your eyes are no exception. One of the most common age-related eye changes is the development of cataracts. Although cataracts do not occur exclusively in older adults, they affect approximately half of all Americans by age 80.
What Are Cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye leading to a decrease in vision. It often develops slowly and can occur in one or both eyes. Symptoms may include blurry vision, faded color perception, halos around lights, sensitivity to bright lights and problems with night vision. Cataracts are more commonly a natural aging process that begins in the 60s. Other causes include trauma to the eye, certain medicines, and genetics. Diabetes and hypertension can accelerate this process.
Diagnosis of Cataracts
Cataracts can be diagnosed in a routine eye exam. Often, as a cataract develops, a change in the glasses prescription occurs. When the updated prescription no longer provides satisfactory vision, then surgery becomes the best option. A cataract does not damage the eye, but allowing the cataract to become too mature makes surgical removal more difficult.
In their early stages, cataracts may cause only minor visual impairment. As cataracts progress, however, they can severely impair vision. At that point, we may recommend cataract surgery. In surgery, the cloudy natural lens is removed and a clear, foldable lens implant is inserted. There have been many technical advances in lens implant options. Specialty intraocular lenses are available that compensate for astigmatism. There are also multifocal implants that allow clear vision for distance viewing and for reading. Like all surgeries, cataract surgery carries some risk; however, it is considered a very safe surgery that is routinely performed worldwide.