Edmonton Senior Health | July 18, 2023
Seniors and Cataracts | There are preventive measures seniors can take that may deter cataracts from developing.
Cataracts most commonly affect seniors, especially those over the age of 80. Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and affects the retina’s ability to properly interpret and transmit signals of light to the part of the brain that governs sight. When the brain receives a cloudy signal, vision then becomes cloudy or blurred. Although rare cases exist in which babies are born with congenital cataracts.
Who is at risk?
The causes of cataracts can vary. As mentioned above, some can be present at birth. In adults, some cataracts are caused by ultraviolet light exposure, while others are the result of previous eye injury. Cataracts can also form after eye surgery or as a result of diabetes. Some reports link smoking, alcohol consumption, sustained exposure to sunlight, and/or steroid usage to cataracts.
When cataracts develop due to aging, as most do, they are most commonly a result of the proteins contained in the eye’s lens bunching together and in turn, distorting vision. Cataracts can affect one or both eyes. Sometimes small cataracts only affect partial vision. However, generally, cataracts continue to grow larger over time, causing multiple vision problems.
Signs of cataracts developing
Those in the medical field recommend comprehensive eye exams every two years for adults 60 years and older. These types of exams can detect early signs of cataracts, as well as other diseases that affect the eyes (e.g., glaucoma, macular degeneration). For cataracts in the early stages, prescription glasses may help alleviate some of the early symptoms. In other cases, surgery is needed to replace the old lens with an artificial lens.
While many cataracts are caused by the simple wear and tear on the eye’s lens as people age, there are preventative measures one can take that may deter cataracts from developing. These include:
We can talk with seniors to ensure they understand the warning signs and symptoms of cataracts. Encourage a visit to a vision specialist if there is a concern. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the better the chances of treating conditions that affect the eyes as people age.
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The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health. Cataracts: signs, symptoms, and diagnosis. Retrieved on July 5, 2012, from agingcare.com/Articles/