Did you know that cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, and the top reason for blindness in the world? Cataracts are very common, so it’s important to know what they are, the causes of cataracts, symptoms of cataracts, and treatment options.
What are Cataracts?
Your eyes have a lens positioned behind your iris, the colored part of your eye. This lens focuses light which is passing through your eye and produces images on the retina, which is a light-sensitive membrane in the back of your eye that operates like the film in a camera.
As we age, proteins build up on this clear lens, and over time, forms a cloudiness on the lens. The cloudiness blocks the passage of light to the retina, and this causes changes in vision.
The clouded lens is a cataract. Cataracts can develop in just one eye, but can also develop in both eyes; however, one cataract cannot “spread” to the other eye.
What are the Types of Cataracts?
Most of the time, cataracts are age-related, meaning that the changes to the lens are the result of the aging process. While age-related cataracts are the most common type of cataracts, there are other types of cataracts, too.
Other types of cataracts include the following:
If a person sustains an injury to either one eye or to both eyes, this can sometimes cause cataracts to develop either soon after the injury or even years later.
While rare, sometimes babies are born with cataracts or develop them within the first year of life. This type of cataract is referred to as a congenital cataract.
Secondary cataracts are when the cataracts are a result of another condition or disease, such as diabetes. Secondary cataracts can also be the result of long-term use of steroids.
What are the Symptoms of Cataracts?
When cataracts are age-related, they develop slowly over time. In the early stages of the development of cataracts, there may not be any noticeable symptoms because the development is so gradual. Over time, though, the following symptoms may appear:
- Dim, blurry, or cloudy vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Light sensitivity and increased glare
- Halo effect around lights
- Frequent prescription changes for eyeglasses
- Fading or yellowing colors
- Double vision in one eye
What Causes Cataracts?
As shared, the aging process is the most common risk factor for developing cataracts. People can start developing cataracts as soon as their forties. Several things can increase the chances of getting cataracts, including the following:
- Family history of cataracts
- Prolonged, unprotected exposure to the sun
- High blood pressure
- Previous eye injury or inflammation
- Previous eye surgery
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Prolonged corticosteroid medication use
How are Cataracts Treated?
If cataracts are age-related, they develop slowly over time. In the beginning, you may simply need a new prescription for eyeglasses, use brighter lights in your home, and be more cautious about driving at night, especially if you find the glare from headlights and streetlights to affect your vision too much.
It is important for people to get regular comprehensive eye exams, particularly over the age of 60, so that cataracts can be diagnosed and monitored. At Ideal Eyecare, our doctors have the expertise and the technology to diagnose and monitor cataracts.
At a certain point, though, cataract surgery will be required to restore clear vision. During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replace with a clear, intraocular lens (IOL). Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures in the United States, and is a safe, effective surgery. The doctor at Ideal Eyecare can refer you to a qualified, expert surgeon for the removal of the cataract, and will co-manage your care before and after the cataract surgery.
Concerned about Cataracts?
If you or someone you love has been dealing with cataract symptoms, there’s no need to suffer in silence! Schedule an appointment with the doctors at Ideal Eyecare for a comprehensive eye exam today.