Behind refractive errors, cataracts are the leading cause of visual impairment, affecting 24 million Americans over the age of 40. In fact, 50% of Americans over the age of 80 have cataracts. While these statistics are staggering, there is hope for sufferers: cataract surgery is 95% successful.
Our lenses are made up of proteins. As we age, those proteins begin to cloud. The once-transparent lens is now milky and hazy. Light can no longer reach the retina, which limits the amount you are able to see.
There are a number of risk factors for cataracts, the most obvious being age. Anyone over the age of 45 is at a higher risk of developing cataracts. Other high-contributing factors are diabetes, smoking, and alcohol. Women are also more likely to have cataracts than men. UV rays from the sun contribute to this disorder, making sunglasses vital when in the sun.
Cataracts develop so slowly that they are difficult to notice without regular eye exams. Over time, your vision becomes cloudy, dull, and hazy, with halos around lights. It may seem as though you are struggling to see through plastic sheeting and you have difficulty seeing at night. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please schedule an appointment at Coastside Eye Care.
There are a number of tests we can perform to diagnose a cataract. During your regular eye exam, an optometrist will use these tests.
Unlike other age-related ocular disorders, cataracts are completely treatable. Cataract surgery is exceptionally successful, having a 95% success rate. During this outpatient surgery, a surgeon removes your natural lens by breaking it up using ultrasound waves or removed as one piece. A custom plastic lens is then put in place of your old lens. This completely painless procedure only takes about 15-20 minutes of surgery.
After your surgery, you will stay for a few hours of observation before you are given an eye patch and allowed to go home. You will not be able to drive, so a safe ride home is required. Within a few weeks, your eye will have adjusted to its new lens and you won’t even know it is in there! With this new intraocular lens, you never have to worry about cataracts again.
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