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Cataracts | The Aging Suite
  • Cataracts

    Posted on February 15, 2010 by in Featured

    Picture Courtesy: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health

    Low vision deficits can impact an individual’s ability to age in place.  Low vision can negatively affect daily life activities such as putting on makeup, shaving, doing laundry, reading the newspaper, and watching TV.  February is low vision awareness month and this week, we will be discussing cataracts.

    The lens is the part of the eye that helps focus an image or light on the retina.  For the retina to receive a sharp image, the lens should be clear. In the case of cataracts, the lens is clouded, resulting in blurred vision.  With time, cataracts may grow, making it more difficult to see.

    There are 3 types of age related Cataracts:

    1. Nuclear Sclerotic:  The most common type and is caused by yellowing and hardening of the lens.  This type tends to develop slowly.
    2. Cortical:  With this type, cloudy areas develop in the lens.   People with diabetes are at risk for developing this type of cataracts.
    3. Posterior Subcapsular:  This type starts off as a cloudy area on the back surface of the lens.  It can develop quickly and symptoms can be noticed in a few months.

    Other types of cataracts that are not related to aging include:

    • Traumatic cataracts:  These can develop after an eye injury.
    • Congenital Cataracts:  Occurs when babies are born with cataracts or when children develop cataracts.
    • Radiation Cataracts:  These can occur after someone has been exposed to radiation.
    • Secondary Cataracts:  These may occur after surgery following another type of eye problem. They may also develop after steroid usage, and for people with other health problems such as diabetes.

    Most cataracts are related to aging.  By age 80, more than 50% of all Americans have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.  However, some people begin to develop cataracts in their 40s and 50s.  These cataracts tend to be small and do not affect vision.  After age 60 however, many cataracts can cause people to have a decline in vision.

    Other Risk Factors for Cataracts include:

    • Having Diabetes
    • Smoking and alcohol use
    • Prolonged exposure to sunlight

    Symptoms of Cataracts include:

    • Blurred vision
    • Poor night vision
    • Double vision
    • Difficulty with depth perception
    • Seeing a halo around lights

    The symptoms of early cataract may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. When non invasive treatments don’t help surgery may be needed.  To learn more about cataract surgery and the different types of cataract surgeries, visit:  National Eye Institute

    Sources: National Eye Institute and Visionaware.com

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