A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye. This condition is extremely common, affecting more than half of all Americans age 65 and over and may be corrected through surgery.
Cataracts occur when there is a buildup of protein in the lens that makes it cloudy. This buildup prevents light from passing through the lens, causing some loss of vision. It is not known what causes the buildup of protein responsible for clouding the lens.
Types of Cataracts
Age-Related Cataracts, as the name suggests, develops as a result of aging and is the most common form of Cataracts. Seventy percent of individuals over 75 years of age have Age-Related Cataracts.
Congenital Cataracts are sometimes found in babies as a result of an infection they had before prior to birth. Congenital Cataracts can also develop in young children.
Some Cataracts may develop as a result of other diseases, like diabetes, or long-term exposure to toxic substances, certain medications (such as corticosteroids or diuretics), ultraviolet light, and radiation. Traumatic Cataracts may form after injury to the eye.
Some risk factors for Cataracts include:
- cigarette smoking
- medications such as corticosteroids
- eye injuries
- sun exposure
- heavy alcohol consumption
- over age of 65
Cataracts often form slowly and cause few symptoms. When symptoms are present, they can include:
- Vision that is cloudy, blurry, foggy or filmy
- Sudden nearsightedness
- Changes in the way color is seen, particularly the color yellow
- Problems driving at night because oncoming headlights are distracting
- Problems with glare
- Double vision
- Sudden temporary improvement in close-up vision
Since patients with Cataracts often have no early symptoms, we recommend routine eye care appointments, particularly if you are over age 45, have diabetes and/or if you have a family history of Cataracts or are at risk for other eye diseases.