Did you know that more than 22 million Americans over the age of 40 are diagnosed with cataract disease? The risk of cataracts developing and worsening increases as you age, in fact over half of Americans over the age of 80 have this eye disease.
Though this ailment isn’t uncommon, caring for individuals with cataract disease can be incredibly challenging, especially without the proper resources. Learn more about this eye disease and the different options to make caring for cataracts easier.
Before delving into the definition of a cataract, it’s important to understand what the eye’s lens is and how it affects vision.
The lens lies beneath the eye’s cornea and assists in focusing light and images onto your retina. Once light and images pass through the transparent lens and reach the retina, they are transmitted into nerve signals and transported to the brain.
As individuals grow older, the proteins inside the lens painlessly clump together, clouding this typically clear lens. This clouding of the lens is called a cataract.
Though most cases of cataracts are age-related, other types of cataracts do exist.
- Secondary Cataract: A cataract can occur after surgery or other health problems, like glaucoma, diabetes, and steroid abuse.
- Traumatic Cataract: Cataracts can occasionally develop days or even years after the eye experiences a traumatic injury.
- Congenital Cataract: Babies can be born with cataracts or may develop them at a young age. Though both eyes are typically affected with congenital cataracts, they are often so small that vision is not altered.
- Radiation Cataract: Cataracts have also been known to develop after extensive exposure to various types of ionizing radiation like that used in cancer therapy and X-rays.
Though cataracts begin small, affecting only a small portion of the lens, time and age typically worsen this disease, causing vision impairment over time. Though this is a painless process, the deterioration of vision can be both frustrating and frightening.
Recently, researchers have discovered that lifestyle habits and certain behaviors can add to the risk of cataract disease, like:
- Frequent sun exposure without proper eye protection
- High blood sugar
- High blood pressure
- Steroid medications
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Excessive amounts of alcohol
No matter how well we care for our eyes, the development of cataracts is often inevitable. However, with regular eye exams and attention to our vision health, cataracts can be detected early with the possibility of treatment. If you notice any of the following eye symptoms, make an appointment with your VSP network doctor as soon as possible:
If you notice any of the above symptoms, it is recommended that you make an eye exam appointment with your eye doctor immediately. If cataracts are diagnosed, you may be referred to an ophthalmologist, or an eye specialist who performs cataract surgery. Here are a few things you can do to prepare for your eye exam:
Care for your eyesight with comprehensive vision insurance coverage from VSP Individual Vision Plans. With annual plans starting as low as $13 per month, VSP Individual Vision Plans provide a Well Vision Exam® each year and access to a vast network of eye doctors you can trust. Enrollment is open year-round, and you can choose a future effective date that works with your schedule. Sign up online or learn more about eye insurance coverage today.