New study shows a noticeable rise in cataracts for adults over the age of 40.

As we age, there are certain health problems and lifestyle changes that can seem almost inevitable for some people. For instance, we often associate our senior years with achy joints and muscles, poor vision and other personal changes that simply come with the natural aging process. However, when we think about when these changes will occur, we often picture a far off number such as our late 60s or 70s. But what many people don’t realize is that, for some, significant health changes may not be as far off as you imagined.

According to recent studies, vision problems such as cataracts are becoming more and more common for people aged 40 and up. In fact, the incidence of cataracts in the United States has risen 19% since 2000 alone, impacting nearly 25 million people aged 40 and older in the U.S. In fact, according to Prevent Blindness America’s Vision Problems in the U.S. report, more than half of all Americans are expected to develop cataracts by age 80.

Given these statistics, it should come as no surprise that cataract surgery is one of the most common vision correction procedures out there, with more that 2.5 million people undergoing surgery for this vision problem each year.

Because cataracts are a common issue that affect many people over the age of 40, it is increasingly important for people to understand the different risks, symptoms and treatment options for this natural aging problem. Therefore, in honor of Cataract Awareness Month, we have put together some important information about cataracts that will hopefully raise awareness about this age-related eye disease, and encourage adults everywhere to undergo regular eye examinations.

How Do Cataracts Develop?

The best way to understand how cataracts develop and affect your vision is to first picture your eyes as a camera lens, and the lens inside of your eye is focusing light onto the retina. It adjusts your eyes focus, which in turns helps us to see things clearly from close and far away. However, the lens is made up of water and protein that is arranged in a very precise way in order to let the light pass through. When this protein starts to clump together and start to cloud as we age, it is called a cataract and can make it difficult to see as it grows larger.

How Can You Maintain Healthy Vision?

There are many things that you can do, starting right now, in order to maintain healthy vision and prevent the development of cataracts. For instance, all adults should get a baseline eye exam by the age of 40, and begin scheduling yearly eye exams after the age of 65. These regular check-ups will monitor any vision loss and will help to detect eye diseases and conditions early on. You can also reduce your risks of cataracts by protecting your eyes from UV damage and knowing your family’s history of cataracts.

What Happens If You Develop Cataracts?

Luckily, cataracts are almost always treatable through cataract surgery. In fact, this particular procedure is one of the safest available for vision correction, and 90% of patients who have cataract surgery will enjoy better vision afterwards. Talk to your ophthalmologist today about your treatment options and whether or not cataract surgery is right for you.

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