A cataract is a clouding of your natural lens, the part of your eye responsible for focusing light and producing clear sharp images. Within a healthy eye light passes through the transparent lens and is focused on to the retina. Once it reaches the retina light is changed into nerve signals that are sent to your brain for you to see. Looking through a cloudy lens is like trying to see through frosty or fogged-up window.
There are several types if cataracts based on where the lens opacities are located: Cortical, Nuclear and Posterior Subcapsular. As a cataract becomes more opaque, common symptoms may include cloudy or blurred vision, glare, or halos around lights, poor night vision, colors may look faded or appear more yellowish.
Everyone is at risk of developing cataracts simply because age is the greatest factor. After age 75, as many as 70% of people in the United States have cataracts that are significant enough to impair their vision.
Other factors that increase your risk of cataracts include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, family history of cataracts, obesity, previous eye injury, inflammation, or surgery, certain medical conditions such as diabetes, prolonged use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids, exposure to UV light from the sun.
Visual acuity test combined with a dilated slit lamp exam by your eye car provider can determine if your decreased vision is caused by a cataract.
Many people who have cataracts only experience minor visual symptoms. Sometimes a simple change in your eyeglass prescription may be helpful. If symptoms are not bothersome, you may be examined periodically by your eye care provider.
If your cataract develops to the point where symptoms affect your daily activities, surgery may be needed. Surgery is the only way a cataract can be removed. Fortunately, cataract surgery is one of the safest and most performed surgeries in the United States.
Cataract surgery is a highly successful procedure. Improved vision is the result in more than 95% of cases. Your eye care provider can determine if surgery is right for you.
At present, there is no real effective way to prevent the formation of cataracts, except by minimizing the exposure to factors that promote it. Wearing UV protected sunglasses can reduce exposure to harmful UV radiation and might slow the progression of cataracts.
A healthy lifestyle including smoking cessation, weight loss, a proper diet high in antioxidents, and tight blood sugar control in diabetics, may all be important factors in delaying the formation of cataracts.”