Cataracts are a common issue for many people, especially as people begin to age. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than 24 million Americans over the age of forty suffer from this issue. As people grow older than sixty-five the chances that cataracts will develop dramatically increases. Cataracts are a medical issue that develop in the lens of the eyes. The lens becomes cloudy, blocking light to the retina due to proteins building up within the lens. The lens becomes thicker as people grow older and not as transparent. Many times, during the early stages of the development of cataracts, people will not realize it is happening.
Besides aging, other medical issues can also lead to cataracts; such as long-term smoking, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Medications, such as long-term combined oral and inhaled steroid use have been known to cause this condition. Long periods of direct exposure to sunlight have also been shown to be a factor in cataract development as well. The symptoms can often become worse over time. It is important that people understand the effects of cataracts and what to look for should they begin to experience these effects. The following is a short list of some of the short term and long term effects of developing cataracts.
Short Term Effects of Cataracts
- Double vision or sometimes multiple images as the cataract initially develops.
- A halo type of effect may develop around lights.
- Near vision may initially improve.
- Becoming sensitive to glare may begin to develop.
Long Term Effects of Cataracts
- Near vision becomes much worse after initial improvement.
- Vision becomes very blurry or cloudy, this can impact activities of daily living; such as driving, reading and chores.
- Colors appear much duller than before.
- In very rare cases, untreated cataracts can cause glaucoma and even blindness.
If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your eye doctor and ask for a comprehensive eye exam. Be sure to discuss with your eye doctor the exact symptoms you are experiencing and a full medical history. Cataracts can be detected during a thorough eye exam from a professional ophthalmologist. This medical issue can be treated through surgery in order to fully restore a person’s vision. The cataract lens is removed during surgery and replaced with an appropriate artificial lens many times. Again, a professional ophthalmologist can discuss treatment with you in person if you suffer from cataracts.