Oral & Vision Health Blog

Learn the Facts about Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. Typically related to aging, it can occur in one or both eyes. The condition is very common in older people. In fact, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery by age 80. It's important to learn the facts about cataracts so you recognize symptoms and seek treatment. 

Causes of Cataracts

The eye’s lens is behind the iris and the pupil. It focuses light onto the retina, where an image is recorded. It also adjusts focus, so you can see things close and far away. The lens consists of water and protein. The protein helps keep the lens clear and allows light in.

In older people, however, the protein can begin to clump together, clouding part of the lens. This is a cataract. And, it can grow larger and cloud more and more of the lens. Of course this makes it even more difficult to see clearly.

Experts believe smoking and diabetes may be causes for cataracts. But, it could also be that the protein just wears down over time as we age.

Symptoms of Cataracts

The following are common symptoms of cataracts:

  • Cloudy/blurry vision.
  • Faded colors.
  • Lights may appear too bright, and might have a halo around them.
  • Difficulty seeing at night.
  • Needing to change your eyeglasses or contact lenses prescriptions often.

Keep in mind that these symptoms may indicate other eye problems. See an eye doctor as soon as you can for a proper diagnosis.

How to Protect your Vision

There are steps you can take in all stages of your life to protect your eyes. Cataracts may be delayed by wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight. If you smoke, you should quit. And, if you have diabetes, you should have it under control for many health reasons including preventing cataracts.

If you are age 60 or older, get a comprehensive dilated eye exam once every two years. Your eye doctor can check for cataracts as well as other age related eye conditions such as macular degeneration and glaucoma. Discovering and treating these conditions early may save your eyesight.

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