By A. Wali Ziayee, M.D.
Age-related cataracts are a yellowing or clouding of the eye’s lens. If you think of your eye as a camera, the natural lens inside the eye helps focus images inside the eye. As part of the aging process, the clear lens slowly develops yellowing and cloudiness. As the cataract progresses, it can at some point cause difficulty with vision.
The changes that occur in the lens are a natural aging process, so anyone can be subject to it. The older we get, the more likely it is for us to develop these changes. At this point, we don’t have any good means of preventing cataracts, but there is research currently being done on ways to prevent or reverse cataracts medically.
If someone is diagnosed with cataracts, it is a good idea to get a complete eye exam from an ophthalmologist to assess the cataracts and general health of the eyes. Early cataracts usually don’t require any treatment; however, if cataracts progress and cause difficulty with your daily activities (like driving, reading, watching TV or playing golf/tennis), then you should consider cataract surgery. Cataract surgery involves removing the natural cloudy lens of the eye and replacing it with a clear artificial lens. Most people have excellent results after cataract surgery.
Eating a well-balanced diet, regular exercise and not smoking are good ways to keep your eyes—and whole body— healthier. It is also important to get regular eye exams from your ophthalmologist to detect early signs of eye disease because some eye diseases, such as glaucoma, do not have symptoms that you would notice until a significant amount of irreversible damage has occurred.
A. Wali Ziayee is an ophthalmologist with Dominion Eye Care in Manassas. Details can be found at dominioneyecare.com.