If you experience cloudy or blurry vision, you might have cataracts. Cataracts develop when the usually clear eye lens becomes clouded or foggy. The lens behind the iris should be clear for light to pass through effectively for good vision.
Clouding of the lens usually happens with age, the condition mainly affecting people over 60. If untreated, cataracts often lead to vision loss or vision changes, depending on the size and location of cataracts. Here are ways to treat cataracts.
Cataracts usually develop at 40, but symptoms become noticeable after 60. In rare cases, babies may be born with cataracts due to a birth defect. Some individuals are more likely to develop cataracts. They include:
People who drink alcohol excessively
Those with a family history of cataracts
People who smoke
Individuals who live in areas with heavy air pollution
The eye lens is made up of water and proteins. Over time, the proteins break down and remain in the eye, clouding the lens. Cataracts are a common consequence of the natural aging process.
More than 50 percent of individuals over 80 have had cataracts. Some factors can lead to the formation of cataracts. They include diabetes, steroids, common medications, eye injuries, eye surgeries, radiation treatment, and prolonged sun exposure.
Cataracts often develop in both eyes, but one eye may be worse than the other or may develop later. Common symptoms of cataracts include cloudy, foggy, or blurry vision, sensitivity to light, glare, and sudden changes in eyeglass prescription.
Other symptoms are the need for brighter light when reading, experiencing double vision, and changes in color perception. Cataracts are not painful but can lead to discomfort, primarily due to light sensitivity.
A comprehensive eye exam can help in diagnosing cataracts. During the exam, the eye doctor will examine the inner eyes after dilating the pupil. With the pupil enlarged, the doctor can check the ocular health and determine how much of the vision is blocked.
Other diagnostic tests are a visual acuity test and a slit-lamp exam. If the cataracts are small or mild, the doctor may recommend a new eyeglass or contact lens prescription.
The only way to treat cataracts permanently is through surgery. However, eye doctors do not usually recommend surgery in the early stages. A change in eyeglass prescription can help improve vision. However, cataracts worsen over time that eventually, surgery may be necessary.
Most people get surgery when poor eyesight makes it difficult to perform tasks like reading or driving. Cataract surgery may be necessary to treat other conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and changes in the retina tissue. An ophthalmologist performs cataract removal surgery.
Cataract surgery is a reasonably simple procedure. It involves the removal of the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. The procedure takes about one hour under local anesthesia. The surgery is safe with very few complications.
For more on how to treat cataracts, visit Tri-City Optometry at our Fremont, California office. Call (510) 602-2020 to schedule an appointment today.