As we get older, things just seem to not work as well as they once did. Most people focus on the aging signs on their skin, hair and figure. But did you know that aging causes changes in our vision?
There are several things that change with our eyes as we age. One of the most common ones is difficulty seeing close and driving at night. But what about distorted, foggy and discolored vision? If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have one of the most common eye conditions of all – cataracts.
WHAT ARE CATARACTS?
Cataracts develop when the natural lens inside the eye becomes foggy and discolored. This fogging of the lens keeps light from getting into the eye and eventually causes blindness. Cataracts develop slowly over a period of years. Luckily, cataracts are treatable through surgery and any vision loss can be reversed.
HOW COMMON ARE CATARACTS?
51% of blindness worldwide is related to cataracts. In the United States, there are approximately 25 million people over the age of forty with cataracts. By age 75, about half of Americans have cataracts. Although cataracts affect anyone from any background and any environment, but many researchers find that some people are more at risk than others.
AM I AT RISK OF DEVELOPING CATARACTS?
Everyone is at risk of developing cataracts and as of today there is no proven prevention method. However, there are some factors that researchers believe contribute to cataract development. Aside from age, risk factors include:
- Smoking. Smoking causes problems for all parts of our bodies from our lungs and yes even our eyes. People who smoke have statistically higher risk of developing cataracts compared to those who do not smoke.
- Diabetes. Diabetes is known to cause many health problems, especially with the eyes. Diabetes can cause cataracts but a well-controlled blood glucose levels significantly lessen this risk.
- Prolonged exposure to sunlight. To protect your eyes and your skin, wear sunglasses and a hat when spending long amount of time outside.
These risk factors are not a guarantee that you will have cataracts but not having these risk factors does not exclude you from developing cataracts either. The cause of cataracts is not yet completely understood, but researchers are constantly working to find out how to prevent this condition.
Cataracts and many other eye diseases can be detected at your annual eye exam with your family eye doctor. These exams are vital, as it is always best to catch eye disease early. Call the specialists at West Side Eye Clinic for an eye exam and check for cataracts.