Increased Life Expectancy Means Increase in Cataract Cases
By Jim Greene
Published on August 31, 2010
Nothing is certain but death and taxes - and an increase in the incidence of cataracts. That's because people are living longer and cataracts affect most people over the age of 70, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
In a recent news release, the AAO said that, since cataracts are increasingly inevitable as life expectancy increases, people should anticipate them by learning how to delay their onset and what to do if they develop.
The term "cataracts" refers to natural eye lenses that are hardening and darkening, thereby losing their ability to admit and focus light. The progression of the condition varies with the individual, but will eventually interfere with activities such as driving and reading. For 95 percent of cataract patients, lens replacement surgery will restore normal vision.
Cataracts Not Exclusively Age-related
While most cataracts are age-related, some people can develop them long before they reach 70, as a result of diabetes, smoking, family history, prolonged use of steroids, or extensive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight.
Because early signs of cataracts can occur by age 40, the AAO advises a baseline eye examination at that age, followed by regular checkups that include monitoring for cataracts. Earlier examinations are recommended for people of any age who show symptoms or have risk factors.
Vision symptoms that demonstrate the onset of cataracts include glare, halos, blurriness, and dimmed colors. When these symptoms begin to adversely affect daily activities, it's time to consult an ophthalmologist about cataract surgery, according to the AAO.