What are Cataracts?

Team Cataracts

A cataract is a change in the eye’s lens that may affect one or both eyes. It clouds your vision, making it difficult or impossible to do ordinary daily activities, such as reading, driving, and watching TV. As the cataract changes, so does your vision.

How Do Cataracts Form?

The lens is located behind the iris (the colored part of the eye) and the pupil. In a healthy eye, light passes through the transparent lens to the back of your eye (the retina), where visual images are transmitted to your brain.

As we age, some proteins in the lens begin to break down and clump together, causing it to become cloudy or opaque. This interferes with the passage of light through the lens to the retina. 

What Causes Cataracts?

Most cataracts are related to aging. However, other factors, such as trauma or exposure to ultraviolet rays, may lead to earlier onset. Certain medical conditions and medications can increase your risk of developing cataracts earlier than others in your age group.

Onset of Symptoms

Cataracts are not painful, and you may not even know you have them until your vision is significantly impaired. Cataracts often affect both eyes, though they rarely affect both eyes simultaneously. 

Symptoms typically develop over time as the condition progresses. In the early stages, you may experience no symptoms at all. If your vision has become blurry and distorted, or you have difficulty seeing while driving at night and reading, it is time to schedule an appointment for an eye exam.

Your ophthalmologist can determine your diagnosis based on various tests. If a cataract is present, surgery may be necessary to remove it and restore good vision.

Who’s Most At Risk for Developing Contacts?

Anyone can get cataracts, but they are more common in older people. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over 40 and the leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Your risk of developing cataracts increases with age, but other factors may also increase your risk. For example, you may be at higher risk if you:

  • Have a family history of cataracts. 
  • Are diabetic.
  • Are obese. 
  • Smoke cigarettes or marijuana.
  • Use corticosteroid medications for an extended time. 
  • Have high blood pressure.

You’re Not Too Young to Get Cataracts

While cataracts are most common in older adults, they can also affect younger people. Several factors may increase your risk of getting cataracts at a younger age, including:

  • Certain medical conditions such as diabetes.
  • Injury to the eye.
  • Chronic steroid use.
  • Certain genetic disorders.
  • Long term exposure to UV radiation (e.g., sun or tanning bed)

If you experience any visual changes, schedule a comprehensive eye health evaluation. A dilated eye exam is critical to correctly diagnosing cataracts and is an excellent way to assess your eyes’ overall health.

If you do have cataracts, don’t worry! Cataract surgery is one of the safest surgeries in medicine, with a 95% success rate. 

How to Reduce Your Risk of Developing Cataracts and Maintain Eye Health

Although cataracts can’t be prevented, you can reduce your risk of developing the condition.

Protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays. To keep your eyes from getting too much sun exposure:

  • Wear sunglasses that block UV rays when you’re in the sun. Sunglasses are especially important for children.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim. A visor won’t protect your eyes as well as a hat with a brim all around it.

Many diseases can affect the eye, some of which may not have obvious symptoms at first. That’s why it’s important to schedule regular checkups if; 

  • You’ve had an eye injury or accident involving your eyes.
  • You’ve been diagnosed with diseases like diabetes or glaucoma. 
  • You have a family history of eye disease.
  • You’re getting older and want to be proactive about eye health. 

Care For Your Vision at Andrews Eyecare Center

If you’ve noticed changes in your vision, are at an increased risk for eye diseases, or think you may have cataracts, it’s time to find eye care you trust. Andrews Eyecare Center provides exceptional eyecare in Garrettsville, OH. Schedule your eye exam today!