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August is Cataracts Awareness Month: Schedule your Eye Exam in Fairfax Today

A surprising number of aren't aware that cataracts affect approximately 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. In fact, over half of senior citizens have some amount of cataracts.

What are cataracts?

A cataract is when the ocular lens, the part of the eye that focuses light to produce images, becomes clouded. The clouding prohibits the transmission of light that is essential for proper vision.

How do I know I have cataracts?

Many people over 40 attribute vision loss with getting older however cataracts do show certain symptoms that are distinct from typical age-related vision loss. Depending on the type of cataract, you may experience hazy vision, increased glare from light or a noticeable dullness of colors. Some cataracts show no signs until they are well developed while others may even show signs of what is known as second sight'' or a temporary improvement in near vision.

The word cataract derives from cataracta which means ''waterfall'' in Latin. This may be because the appearance of white opacities in the lens resembles the cloudy rush of water which also appears white. Cataracts that develop as a result of aging usually show an initial opacity in the lens, followed by swelling and shrinkage of the lens leading to eventual blindness.

Preventing and Treating Cataracts

There is no guaranteed answer to prevent the development of cataracts but some say that reducing UV exposure your eyes from UV rays with sunglasses can reduce cataract development. Some research shows that taking antioxidants and reducing consumption of salt can also play a role in prevention.

Although early loss of sight can be treated using corrective devices such as glasses or magnifying lenses, at some point vision will likely deteriorate to a level to require surgical treatment. Cataract surgery is actually the most common surgery in America and is typically a success. In the standard surgery, the doctor takes out the opaque lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. In 9 out of 10 patients, nearly perfect vision is achieved.

Don't let vision problems go undiagnosed. A yearly eye exam is advised for every adult, particularly those over 40. Call our Fairfax, VA optometry practice today to book your exam.