The Eye’s Aging Journey-Exploring Cataract Development Over Time

Age-related changes to the eye can be both subtle and gradual. The most common eye condition related to natural aging is cataracts. The lens of the eye that is normally clear changes due to a breakdown of proteins and fibers in the lens. Understanding when it is time to treat cataracts is determined by the eye’s aging journey and exploring cataract development over time. 

By age 80, most people have cataracts or have undergone cataract surgery. Cataracts usually begin to form when people are in their 40s. Surgery is often delayed until cataracts keep people from doing normal, daily things such as driving at night or significantly interfering with quality of life. Cataracts progress in 4 stages: early cataract, immature cataract, mature cataract and hypermature cataract. Between stages 1 and 2, the early and immature, patients can go years without any major changes to vision. Early cataracts may produce minor changes to eyesight with slightly blurred vision along with mild eye strain, light sensitivity and difficulty focusing. As the cataract grows into the immature stage, the lens grows cloudier and harder to see through as the pupil also appears less clear. The cataract will be slightly opaque. Blurred vision, especially in low-light conditions, is a common side effect. Headaches, halos around lights, need for brighter light for reading and other activities, double vision, frequent changes in prescription, and the fading or yellowing of colors are noticeable symptoms as the cataract develops. In stage 3, or mature cataract, the entire lens of the eye begins to bulge slightly. The pupil changes in color from black to green with a bright spot in the center. The cataract itself is visibly larger and vision has started to become compromised. The opaqueness of the cataract will have increased to appear milky white or amber in color. Stage 3 is the optimal time to talk with your ophthalmologist about surgery to remove the cataract and replace it with an intraocular lens. When the cataract is left untreated to the hypermature stage, it becomes very dense and hardened making it more difficult to remove. Surgery is still the best treatment option but hypermature cataracts can cause inflammation possibly leading to glaucoma. 
Cataracts are easily treatable with surgery. Before cataracts impact vision, rectifying the issue with new prescription glasses, anti-glare sunglasses or magnifying glasses are non-invasive and practical solutions. To learn more about cataract development, visit WEBSITE. To schedule an eye exam and have an ophthalmologist monitor your eyes for cataract development or progression, contact Pennachio Eye at 325-227-1999.

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