Cataract is a very common eye disease — it’s the leading cause of blindness around the world and affects approximately 22 million Americans over the age of 40. In fact, cataracts rob more people of their vision than macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy put together.
Since next month (June) is Cataract Awareness Month in the United States, the team here at Vision and Ortho-K Center is focusing our attention on this serious eye disease. Under the direction of Dr. Curtis Frank, we understand how cataracts progress, and more importantly, how we can work toward preserving your vision.
As with most health problems, the sooner we can identify and treat the disease, the better your outcome, which is very much the case with cataracts. To help, here’s a look at some of the early signs of cataracts.
Before we get into the signs of cataracts, let’s take a quick look at the problem. Each of your eyes features a lens, which receives, bends (refracts), and focuses light onto your retina. From there, your retina sends the information through your optic nerve to your brain, where an image is formed. With cataracts, proteins in your lenses start to break down, which affects your ability to see clearly.
Some people are more at risk than others, starting with age — half of white Americans have cataracts by the time they reach 75. By the age of 80, barely 70% of white Americans develop cataracts, as opposed to only 53% of black Americans and 61% of hispanic Americans, which means race plays a key role.
Outside of age and race, other factors that put you at greater risk for cataracts include excessive exposure to the sun, smoking, diabetes, and genetics.
A cloudy warning
Cataracts are generally progressive, so it’s important to recognize the early signs, which include:
- Blurry or cloudy vision
- Double vision
- Halos around lights
- Muted colors or a yellowish tint in your vision
- Problems with night vision
- Sensitivity to bright lights
These symptoms typically start out slowly, but as your cataracts progress, they become more severe and can prevent you from engaging in normal activities, like driving at night.
When cataracts first develop, we can improve your vision with corrective lenses. As they get worse, however, the best solution for cataracts is a surgery in which the surgeon replaces your deteriorating lenses with permanent, clear intraocular lenses. While surgery may sound extreme, thanks to laser technology, cataract surgery is relatively quick and painless and is performed on an outpatient basis.
If you suspect you have cataracts, your first step is to schedule an appointment at our office in Boston, Massachusetts, so that we can take the steps necessary to preserve your vision.