About one in six Americans over 40 has a developing cataract, and half of all Americans have cataracts by the age of 70. A cataract is a clouded area that develops in the lens of the eye when proteins begin to clump together.
Causes and Risk Factors for Cataracts
One of the greatest risk factors for cataracts is age, but many other factors influence cataract formation including:
- Family history
- Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, tanning beds and other sources
- High alcohol consumption
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
- Statin medicines used to reduce cholesterol
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Previous eye injury or eye surgery
- Eye inflammation
- High myopia
An Ophthalmologist May Help with Cataract Diagnosis
If you think you may be at high risk for cataracts, make an appointment with an ophthalmologist. If you have a developing cataract, your doctor can suggest some lifestyle changes to help delay its progression. You may be able to slow the formation of cataracts by quitting smoking, changing medications, staying out of the sun or managing your blood pressure.
Cataract Treatment Involves Eye Surgery
If cataracts are affecting your vision, your ophthalmologist will perform cataract eye surgery. Cataract eye surgery is one of the most common and successful procedures performed in the United States. A surgeon removes the affected lens and replaces it with a clear plastic one called an intraocular lens (IOL). There are countless types of customized IOLs that can correct vision at various distances or even block ultraviolet light to protect the retina.
Another benefit of cataract surgery is that it is usually an outpatient procedure that can be performed at an ambulatory surgery center. There is little down-time required, so most patients can resume their normal activities rapidly.
It might be difficult to avoid getting cataracts, but you do not have to live with them. Make an appointment with your ophthalmologist today to improve your vision health.