One of the leading causes of vision problems, especially in older people, is cataracts. This condition affects about 25 million people aged over 40 years in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Furthermore, half of all Americans aged 75 years and above have cataracts.
In older individuals, the lens of the eye starts to harden and become yellow, which leads to blurry vision. Those with the condition also find it difficult to see at night, in addition to having dull color perception. Over time, cataracts worsen; therefore, it is important to understand the signs and progression of the condition to seek treatment early. Early treatment will stop or slow down the progression of cataracts.
As people age, their clear natural lenses begin to yellow and harden, causing them to become cloudy. A cataract is this opaque area over the lens of the eye. It prevents light from passing through the lens, making it difficult to see clearly. You can develop a cataract in both eyes. You can also develop it in just one eye. However, you cannot develop more than one cataract in one eye. In addition, it cannot spread or move from one eye to the other.
You use your eye’s lens every day to do everything from driving to reading to watching television. When proteins in your lens clump together with age, it can turn your lens from clear to cloudy. Certain habits can also increase your risk of developing a cataract. Such behaviors include prolonged exposure to radiation and spending too much time in the sun without wearing eye protection. Also, using steroids, having high blood sugar, and smoking are risk factors.
This condition ranges in terms of severity, and treatment often depends on the type of cataracts you have and the degree of progression. Some of the early signs include:
Cloudy vision or the noticeable fuzzy or indistinct spots in your field of vision
Gradually worsening night vision
Increased sensitivity to light
The appearance of glare or halos in your field of vision
Difficulty noticing changes in your vision
A tiny cataract will not always develop quickly. Therefore, you will have adequate time to think about your options. You should discuss treatment and/or prevention options with your eye doctor. Some treatments may stop the progression of the cataract altogether after some time. However, you need to understand that the condition never goes away on its own. If left untreated, cataracts continue to grow and can lead to blindness.
Although this condition is not reversible, you can do certain things to slow down its progression. You just need to consult your eye doctor to determine whether you need surgery before your symptoms worsen. Some of the things that you can do to slow down the progression of cataracts include going for regular eye examinations, switching to a healthier diet, and wearing sunglasses. You should also ask your doctor about the possible side effects of any prescription medication.
To learn more about the signs and treatment options for cataracts, visit Eyes on You in Portland, OR at (971) 252-7500 to schedule an appointment.