Cataracts are merely a clouding of the eye’s lens, and this cloud blocks the light that passes into the eye. Because of the cloudiness of the eye’s lens, a person’s vision may become blurry. Cataracts are very common, mostly in the elderly, and statistical data finds that more than half of Americans will have cataracts by the time that they are eighty. While the cause of cataracts is unknown, cataracts develop more frequently with age. There are several possible risk factors for developing cataracts and those include: long exposure to UV Rays, diabetes, eye inflammation, genetics, steroid use, and smoking.
There are several symptoms that a person may have cataracts. Blurred vision and double vision is usually the first sign that a cataract has developed. A person might also notice that while reading, the light seems too dim or bright lights may feel very intense and powerful. If the cataract has developed to a larger size, a person might even be able to see the cataract, which appears as milky yellowish spot on the pupil. If you have any of these symptoms, you may need to begin regular eye exams.
When you visit your eye doctor, he will look at your familial and personal history as well as any possible symptoms that a cataract has developed. He will look into your past eye history (one possible symptom of a cataract is a repetitive change in prescription without any improvement). He will test your vision and side vision. He will test how your eye moves and how it is affected by glare. He will dilate your pupil to examine the retina, the optic nerve and the macula. He will use a tool called a slit lamp and do an exam of the front of the eye, and if a cataract is found, this test will determine how dense the cataract is, and in it’s denseness how it is affecting the light which passes through the eye.
The treatment for cataracts varies, and, in severe cases, surgery may need to be performed to remove the cataract. While cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the United States, regular eye exams are important. After the age of sixty-five, a person should get a regular eye exam every year. Being proactive in your eye health is the key to controlling possible cataracts.