Cataracts are cloudy, opaque areas in the usually clear lens of the eye. A cataract can impair vision and make it difficult to see depending on its location and size. This condition often develops in both eyes and among people over the age of 55, but infants and young children can also be affected. In cases where they develop in both eyes, one may be worse than the other.
The lens of the eye is located behind the iris. Under normal circumstances, the lens focuses light on the retina, which sends the image through the optic nerve to the brain. When a cataract clouds the lens, light is scattered. As a result, the lens loses proper focus.
What Causes Cataracts?
Most cataracts are the result of age-related changes in the lens of the eye. As age-related cataracts develop, vision becomes more and more cloudy. However, other factors can contribute to cataract appearance, including:
- Phenothiazine-related medications
- Unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation
- High alcohol consumption
- Nutritional deficiency and low levels of antioxidants
On rare occasions, cataracts can be present at birth or develop shortly after. They can also be inherited due to an infection (such as rubella) during pregnancy.
What are the Signs & Symptoms?
Cataracts often form very slowly over time. The most common signs and symptoms include:
- Blurry or hazy vision
- Reduced color intensity
- Increased difficulty seeing at night
- Increased light sensitivity
- Change in the eye’s prescription, or refractive error
How are Cataracts Treated?
The level of your visual impairment will determine your treatment. If a cataract only slightly affects your vision, you may not need any treatment at all. Instead, you should schedule regular check-ups at VisualEyes, where we will monitor for increased visual symptoms. In some instances, you may be able to improve your vision by changing your eyeglass prescription temporarily. Additionally, anti-glare coatings on eyeglass lenses can help reduce glare when driving at night. We also recommend increasing the amount of light used when reading.
If a cataract progresses to the point of affecting your ability to do routine tasks, you may need surgery.