Cataracts are dense, cloudy spots in the lens of the eye which can blur vision by preventing light from reaching the retina. These clumps on the eye are formed by loose proteins on the lens that gather together to form a mass. Cataracts often affect both eyes but may affect them unevenly.
It is important to see an eye doctor when sudden changes in vision occur.
Causes of Cataracts
As we age, the lens of the eye becomes less flexible and less transparent and tissues within the lens can break down and clump together, forming cataracts. Age and injury are the two most common causes of cataracts, but some genetic disorders can increase the risk of developing cataracts.
Additionally, patients with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing cataracts as well as diabetic retinopathy.
Some factors that can increase the risk of developing cataracts are:
· Exposure to sunlight
· High blood pressure
· Previous eye injury or surgery
· Prolonged steroid medication use
· Drinking alcohol to excess
Symptoms of Cataracts
· Blurred or cloudy vision
· Difficulty with vision at night
· Light sensitivity
· Halos appearing around lights
· Yellowing of colors
· Double vision
Cataracts continue to develop and grow if left untreated, and the only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery. Consult one of our experienced optometrists to discuss treatment options for cataracts that affect quality of life or inhibit the ability to perform normal daily tasks.
Types of Cataracts
There are different types of cataracts depending upon the placement of the cataract on the lens. Some of the most common types are: nuclear cataracts, cortical cataracts, posterior subcapsular cataracts, and congenital cataracts.
Nuclear Cataracts affect the center of the lens and cause more nearsightedness. In fact, nuclear cataracts may temporarily improve reading vision. However, vision gradually clouds and the lens can turn yellow or brown which leads to color blindness.
Cortical cataracts affect the edges of the lens and appear as white streaks which eventually extend to the center of the lens as time progresses. Cortical cataracts hinder light from entering the eye.
Posterior subcapsular cataracts progress faster than other types of cataracts. This type affects the back of the lens and begin as a small, opaque area near the back of the lens right in the path of light entering the eye. This type of cataract interferes with reading vision, reduces vision in bright light, and produces a glare or halo around lights.
Children can be born with cataracts called congenital cataracts which may be genetic or form from an intrauterine infection or trauma. They don’t always affect the child’s vision, but are often removed right after detection if vision is affected.
Regular eye exams are the best way to maintain proper eye health, but there are preventative measures that can be taken at home to slow the progression of cataracts, such as:
· Manage other health problems
· Maintain a healthy diet
· Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) light
· Reduce alcohol use
· Quit smoking
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