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Cataracts

Having cataracts can often be compared to looking out of a cloudy window or frosted surface — interfering with every aspect of your vision and making things like reading and driving a car difficult. But luckily, this condition can be treated.

Overview

What is a cataract?

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What are the different types of cataracts?

There are several different types of cataracts — the most common are nuclear sclerotic cataracts, cortical cataracts and posterior subcapsular cataracts. Each type has its own set of unique symptoms and treatment options.

Nuclear sclerotic cataracts

  • The most common form of cataracts, this condition begins at the center of the lens and progresses slowly, developing over the years.
  • With time, the lens of your eye becomes cloudy and yellow/brown.

Cortical cataracts

  • People with diabetes (type 1 and 2) are at higher risk of developing this type of cataract, which starts at the outer layer of the lens and moves inwards.

Posterior subcapsular cataracts

  • The type of cataracts develops swiftly on the back surface of the lens typically over the course of months rather than years.
  • People with diabetes (type 1 and 2) and high nearsightedness are at higher risk., with rapid reduction in reading vision, bright light vision and increased glare/halos at night.

Make an appointment with your doctor

The best way to catch cataracts early and prevent long-term damage is to call your doctor at the first sign of any symptoms. Annual eye exams are also a great way to ensure your eyes are in tip-top shape.

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If you develop sudden vision changes, such as double vision or flashes of light, sudden eye pain, or sudden headache, see your doctor right away.
In most cases cataracts are age-related, so if you’re between the ages of 40 and 60, and start developing symptoms, visit your provider.

Causes

What causes cataracts?

Most cataracts develop due to aging or an injury to the tissue that makes up your eye lens. Cataracts is an extremely common eye condition that affects over 24.4 million people in the United States alone.

Genetics

Some people are born with cataracts or develop them during childhood, due to genetic mutation in the lens of their eye.

Aging

Most cataracts are caused by normal changes in your eyes as you get older — over time, the protein in the crystalline lens breaks down and causes clouding of the lens.

Injury

Cataracts can sometimes occur when your eyes experience either blunt, penetrative, chemical or radiation trauma.

Medication

Anti-inflammatories such as prednisone and cortisone, have been known to cause cataracts after prolonged use.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

Cataracts tend to progress slowly and will not affect your vision until later on. However, recognizing the signs and symptoms early will allow you to start treatment and prevent any future damage.

Double Vision

When multiple images appear when there should only be one

Clouded Sight

The feeling of looking out of a foggy window or glass

Light Sensitivity

When the light level appears too bright and causes discomfort

Color changes in your vision

Yellowing of the lens in the eye during cataract formation can change your color perception

Diagnosis

How are cataracts diagnosed?

Most cataracts can be identified with a routine eye exam. Your eye doctor will test your vision, ask a series of medical history questions and examine your eyes with a slit lamp microscope to look for problems with the lens and other parts of the eye.

A medical screen shows orange blacklight photos of an eye on a blue screen.

Treatment & Prevention

How are cataracts treated?

People suffering from cataracts can use glasses, magnifying lenses or stronger lighting to help improve their vision. But the only true way to cure a cataract is with surgery. Cataract surgery is a safe and common procedure which involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a silicone or acrylic lens to improve vision.

How can cataracts be prevented?

While no studies have proven how to prevent cataracts, these strategies have been shown to be helpful.

Quit Smoking

Smoking has been known to cause vision loss, so ask your doctors for suggestions on how to quit. Medications, counseling and other strategies may be available to you.

Have Regular Eye Examinations

By scheduling regular eye exams, you can detect cataracts and other eye problems at the early stages.

Choose a Healthy Diet

Adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to your routine helps your body get the necessary vitamins and nutrients it needs to maintain optimal eye health.

Wear Sunglasses

Ultraviolet light from the sun may contribute to the development of cataracts. Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays when you’re outdoors.

Think you may have cataracts?