If you are an older adult, you probably have received eye exams that include cataract screenings. Cataracts, while painless, can significantly impair your vision, affecting your independence and quality of life. The key to catching cataracts is understanding them and getting regular exams.
So what do you need to know about cataracts? And what can you do to treat a cataract if you do have one? These 10 facts about cataracts can help you understand this common vision problem and how to treat it.
Cataracts can’t be prevented. As far as doctors and researchers can tell, you cannot prevent the development of cataracts. Early detection, however, can help you stop or slow vision loss.
Some factors are linked to greater risk for cataracts. If you have a history of vision problems or diabetes, you may be at increased risk for cataracts. Regular eye exams can help you catch problems early.
Cataracts can cause a wide range of vision problems. While cloudy or blurry vision are most often the symptoms associated with cataracts, sufferers may also experience faded colors, double vision, increased light sensitivity, or other vision changes.
Environmental factors may increase your risk. Cigarette smoke, polluted air, and heavy drinking can all increase your risk for developing cataracts.
Cataracts are surprisingly common. More than half of Americans who reach the age of 80 have or previously had at least one cataract.
You may have cataracts, even with good vision. Early-stage cataracts may not impair your vision enough for you to notice. With regular eye exams, your doctor can catch cataracts in this early stage and intervene with appropriate treatment.
Wearing sunglasses may help. Although researchers do not have definitive evidence that cataracts can be prevented, research suggests that sunlight may play a role in cataract development. Wearing sunglasses to shield your eyes from UV rays may help.
People of any age can get cataracts. Although cataracts are often associated with old age, many people develop them in their 40s or 50s. Some types of cataracts can affect people at even younger ages.
Surgery can make a world of difference. Nine out of every 10 people who get cataract surgery see improvements to their vision.
Getting an annual eye exam can help catch cataracts. If you’re aged 65 or older, you should be getting eye exams each year to check for cataracts and other vision problems.