Cataracts are one of the most common age-related conditions to affect patients in their senior years. At Lifetime Eye Care, Cleveland optometrist Jeffrey Schultz recommends regular, comprehensive eye exams for our senior patients. During an exam, we can screen for cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other conditions that may affect the health of our patients' eyes.
At What Age Do Cataract Develop?
Although cataracts may start to develop when a patient is in his or her 40s and 50s, they generally do not begin to have a serious impact on vision until patients reach their 60s. The National Institute of Health estimates that half of Americans aged 65 years and older have cataracts. Indeed, according to a report compiled by the Centers for Disease Control, 54 percent of patients aged 85 years or older have had cataracts surgically removed.
Cataract Risk Factors
In addition to age, there are a number of other risk factors that increase a patient's likelihood of developing cataracts. These include:
- Prolonged exposure to sunlight
- Family history of cataracts
- Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity
- Excessive alcohol use
- Past eye surgery, injury, or inflammation
- Regular use of corticosteroid medications
- Previous exposure to ionizing radiation
When a cataract begins to form, it typically does not result in any symptoms. Over time, as the protein clumps together, the cataract becomes so dense that patients experience:
- Cloudy, blurry, or dim vision
- Colors that seem yellowed or faded
- Glare or haloes around lights
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Poor vision at night or in low light conditions
- Double vision in one eye
- Frequent changes in your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses
It is important that patients aged 65 and over undergo annual eye exams so Dr. Schultz can check for various eye problems. Cataracts can be detected with the help of the following tests:
- Visual acuity test: The visual acuity test is one that most patients, children and adults alike, are familiar with. In this test, patients will cover one eye while reading a series of letters from a standardized Snellen chart.
- Slit lamp: The slit lamp is a microscope with a high-powered light source that focuses the light into a thin line. The slit of light enables Dr. Schultz to examine the cornea, iris, lens, and the space between your iris and cornea in small sections, making it easier to detect irregularities.
- Dilated retinal exams: In this eye exam, dilating eye drops are applied to each eye to enlarge the pupils. Dr. Schultz will then examine your retina and optic nerve with an ophthalmic magnifying lens and slit lamp to determine if a cataract is present, and, if so, the extent of clouding that has occurred.
If Dr. Schultz determines that you have developed a cataract, you have two treatment options.
- Eyeglasses: If the cataract is not significantly affecting your vision at this time, new eyeglasses and the use of anti-glare sunglasses can be used to improve your vision. For our patients in Cleveland, eyewear is available at our practice. We offer a range of frame styles, lens types, and sunglasses to improve your vision and protect your eyes. Patients with cataracts can maintain adequate vision for several years with the use of prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses.
- Surgery: When the cataract has become so clouded that your impaired vision is affecting your quality of life, cataract removal surgery may be necessary. Although Dr. Schultz does not personally perform cataract removal surgery, he can refer you to some of the most trusted and skilled cataract surgeons in the Cleveland area.
To schedule a comprehensive eye exam at Lifetime Eye Care in Cleveland, contact us today.