Cataracts are one of the most common eye afflictions affecting older individuals and are not preventable, but there are things you can do to hold them off. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.
It’s a common sign of aging. By the time we reach 65, it estimated that half the population will have a cataract, and all of us will likely have one by 75.
Dr. Leejee Han Suh is an ophthalmologist at New York Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center.
"A cataract is a cloudiness in the lens in your eye and it can cause progressive vision changes and ultimately a decrease in your vision,"
She says cataracts are part of the aging process.
Early on, many of us may not even realize we have one. The first symptom is often a change in vision that could be corrected with a change of prescription, but as it progresses, you may notice other symptoms.
“So a haze is common. People will say they feel like they are looking through a hazing screen. Otherwise a decrease in vision, an increase in glare particularly when you are driving at night with oncoming headlights and just an overall blurriness in your vision,” Han Suh says.
There are many different types of cataracts.
The most common occurs naturally as we age, but those with poorly controlled diabetes, trauma, people who are on chronic medication like steroids or those with a family history are more at risk for developing cataracts early on.
Cataracts are not preventable, but there are things we can do to help slow the progression.
For one we can maintain a healthy diet packed with antioxidants and omega three fatty acids, avoid smoking and always remember to wear those sunglasses when you go outside.
If normal day activities are impacted, the treatment for cataracts is surgery.
“The cure for cataracts is surgery. It's taking out the lens which has become a cataract in your eye and replacing it with an artificial lens implant that stays in your eye forever," says Han Suh.
Surgery is only done on one eye at a time and it’s usually an outpatient procedure. Patients are given eye drops and it usually takes about a month to fully heal.
If you are noticing a haze or change in your vision you should visit your eye doctor to see if a cataract could be the problem.