It’s estimated that more than 24.4 million Americans over the age of 40 have cataracts. Taking that statistic a little further… By age 75, at least 50 percent will have cataracts, and by age 80, it rises to 70 percent. Most optometrists tend to agree and say that If you live long enough, you will eventually develop cataracts, as they are considered an age-related condition. With it being such a prevalent condition in older adults, here’s what you need to know about cataracts in older adults.
What are cataracts?
Cataracts are a common eye condition that usually affects older adults. Cataracts occur when the lens of your eyes becomes clouded and unable to focus images. This eye condition develops when natural proteins form abnormal clumps in the lens. As cataracts progress, less and less light is able to pass through the lens resulting in blurry and cloudy vision, especially at night.
What are the causes of cataracts in older adults?
Aging is the biggest culprit of cataracts. As you age, the tissue that makes up the eye’s lens begins to change as protein and fibers break down. Injury to the eye is also another common cause of cataracts. Other contributing factors to the development of cataracts include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, long-term steroid use, smoking, and radiation treatments.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
Cataracts in older adults develop slowly, often making symptoms unnoticeable in the beginning stages. In most cases, symptoms don’t become noticeable until the protein clumps are large enough to distort your vision. However, one of the first symptoms of cataracts is a high sensitivity to glare or bright lights. Other common symptoms include:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Trouble seeing at night
- Light and glare sensitivity
- Seeing halos around lights
- Inability to see bright colors
- Double vision
What is the treatment for cataracts in older adults?
In the early stages of cataracts, you can often improve your vision with prescription glasses. In addition, utilizing bright lighting may also help to see and focus. However, surgery is the only way to treat and get rid of cataracts successfully.
Cataract removal eye surgery is an extremely common procedure. During cataract surgery, your natural lens is surgically removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens. When to opt for cataract surgery depends on the severity of your vision impairment. When cataracts begin to affect your everyday life and prevent you from doing the things you enjoy, you should most definitely consider cataract-removal surgery.
Protect Your Eyes and Talk to Your Doctor
Although there is no way to prevent cataracts from developing, you can take steps to reduce your risk or delay the onset of cataracts. To help protect your eyes, you should eat a healthy diet, stop smoking, limit alcohol consumption, and have routine eye exams. Let your doctor know if you’ve noticed a change in your vision. Together you can monitor your cataracts’ progression and form a plan of action that best fits your needs.