Cataracts affect approximately 1 in 6 Americans over 40 years old. After 80 years of age, 50% of Americans will develop cataracts. They are the leading cause of blindness in the world. But even with the astounding prevalence of cataracts nation- and world-wide, their causes, effects, and treatment remain a mystery to many but don’t worry.
How do you get cataracts?
Cataracts are caused when protein builds up and clumps in the lens of the eye. The protein buildup prevents light from passing through, which results in vision loss. And as the new lens cells form, the older cells compact and create a cataract in the center of the lens.
Am I at risk?
There are four main factors for increased risk of cataract development.
Age: As stated previously, cataracts can develop naturally as a result of aging.
Heredity: Cataracts can occur in babies and children as a result of infection, injury, or poor fetal development. But hereditary cataracts may not manifest until childhood.
Existing Conditions: Cataracts can also develop as secondary symptoms of medical conditions, such as diabetes. Cigarette smoke, air pollution, and heavy alcohol consumption can increase risk of forming cataracts as well as environmental exposure to radiation, ultraviolet light, toxic substances, and some medications.
Trauma: Cataracts can form in response to eye injuries
Are there different types of cataracts?
Yes, there are three different types of cataracts:
Subcapsular cataracts occur at the back of the lens. Diabetics or high-dose steroid users have a greater risk of subcapsular cataracts.
Nuclear cataracts form deep In central zone of the lens (nucleus) and are most closely associated with aging
Cortical cataracts are white, wedge-like opacities that begin in the periphery of the lens and grow toward the center of the cortex in a spoke-like fashion
How do cataracts affect your vision?
Cataracts can result in these vision changes:
Lens of eye can darken and develop a yellow or brown tinge, which can result in a yellow tint to your vision
Sensitivity to light
As cataracts develop, they cause light to diffract as it enters the eye, which can manifest as haloes around light sources or double vision (diplopia)
Can cataracts come back after surgery?
You can rest assured. Cataracts cannot come back after surgery. Cataract surgery actually replaces the cloudy lens with an artificial lens implant.
However, patients (about 20%) may develop a condition called “posterior capsular opacification”— incorrectly called a secondary cataract—in which the capsule that once supported the cataract has become cloudy. But this can be treated effectively with a simple outpatient laser procedure at your eye doctor’s office.
So there we have it: comprehensive answers to the most frequently-asked cataract questions! Still interested in learning more? We’ve compiled a free ebook about the risks, symptoms, and treatments of cataracts.
If you’re worried that you or your loved one is developing cataracts, please contact an eye specialist and schedule a comprehensive eye examination today. The sooner your cataracts are treated, the sooner you can get back to seeing the world in living color.
To request an appointment, simply click here, or call our office directly at (225) 768-7777.