Cataracts are a common term used by eye care professionals. You may have even heard of someone who has had a cataract. Most of us know that a cataract is an eye condition but few can actually define or explain what a cataract is? As cataracts are common among older adults, we thought we would provide some easy to understand information on cataracts.
They more often affect people around 70 years old due to the aging of eyes. Cataracts, however, can occur during any stage of life; although the risk of cataract increases as you get older. Other risk factors for cataract include:
- diseases such as diabetes
- Smoking and alcohol use
- prolonged exposure to sunlight
- poor diet/nutrition
- trauma to the eye
The good news is that cataracts are treatable. A common surgical procedure called phacoemulsification can restore vision to normal. Cataract removal is one of the most common operations performed in the United States. The procedure is performed at an out-patient surgery center, takes about 10 minutes, and is painless. The recovery rate is quick and most people return to their everyday activities the next day. Often people who have the surgery actually experience improved vision.
Sometimes Intraocular lenses (IOLs) are used to replace the natural lenses. IOLs can often decrease or eliminate the need for glasses after surgery. Your optometrist will recommend whether IOLs are the best treatment option based on your specific condition and personal goals.
Cataracts are generally not serious if treated but knowing the signs of cataracts is important to maintain healthy vision. If you are experiencing vision problems of any kind, don’t wait, see your eye doctor immediately. As with cataracts, early detection is the best way to preserve your sight for years to come.
By Kerry Hunt, MD