As we age, the likelihood of developing cataracts increases. Cataracts are one of the most common vision problems in the U.S. and are the leading cause of blindness in the world. However, cataracts are very treatable. The corrective surgery for the condition works 95% of the time.
So what is a cataract?
A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye becomes clouded so that light is unable to pass properly through it. This cloudiness starts slowly and, at times, over only part of the lens. For this reason, it can go unnoticed. As the lens becomes more cloudy, it also becomes hard and less light can pass through. Without light reaching the retina, the vision is obstructed.
What Causes Cataracts?
The exact cause of cataracts is unknown. As one ages, the proteins that help keep the lens clear can begin to cluster together. This causes the cloudiness associated with cataracts.
How to Tell if You Have a Cataract
One of the most common symptoms of cataracts is blurred vision or even double vision. This may be in one eye or both, but it shouldn’t be ignored or assumed it is a normal part of aging; it isn’t.
Other signs can include seeing halos around lights, increased difficulty seeing at night, as well as a yellowing or fading of the colors of the eye.
There are some risk factors that can play a role in the development of cataracts.
Ultraviolet radiation from the sun
The long-term use of corticosteroid medications.
As with many health conditions, you can take preventive measures to reduce your risk of developing a cataract. These measures include:
Having regular eye examinations that include cataract screening
Wearing sunglasses and a hat outside to help block ultraviolet rays
Managing illnesses such as diabetes to reduce your risk of complications
Reducing your risk of eye injury by wearing protective goggles for active sports and work
Diet changes can also help delay cataracts. Eat foods rich in vitamin C and beta carotene
If you do think you or a loved one may have cataracts, see an optometrist. A professional opinion can help you determine the next steps to clearer vision.