A cataract is the clouding of a typical clear lens of the eye. People with cataracts find it difficult to see through a cloudy lens which is like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window. It is more difficult to read, drive a car (especially at night) or see the expression on a friend's face as a result of clouded vision caused by a cataract.
The development of most cataracts starts slowly and it does not disturb eyesight at the beginning. But with time, cataracts will interfere with your vision. The cloudiness in your vision caused by a cataract might affect only a small part of the eye's lens at the beginning, and you may not be aware of any vision loss.
Cataracts will ultimately develop in both eyes, but not at the same rate or time. It is possible for the cataract in one eye to be more advanced than the other, thereby causing a difference in vision. Naturally, as the cataract grows larger, it clouds more of your lens and this distorts the light passing through the lens, resulting in more-noticeable symptoms.
Types of cataracts:
- Age-related cataracts. The majority of these types of cataracts are related to aging.
These types of cataracts are hereditary. There are cases where some babies are born with cataracts, while some develop theirs in childhood.
- Secondary cataracts. This can occur because of an underlying disease in the body (such as diabetes). Research studies have linked secondary cataracts to the use of the steroid.
Traumatic cataracts can occur when there is an injury to one or both eyes. It can manifest either right after the accident or several years later.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cataracts?
Symptoms of cataracts may include:
- Blurred, clouded, or dim vision.
- Increased difficulty with vision at night.
- Sensitivity to light and also glare.
- Need for brighter light either for reading or other activities at home.
- Seeing "halos" around lights, or not seeing clearly.
- Frequent changes in eyeglasses due to changes in the focal length of the contact lens.
- Inability to comprehend colors.
- Double or impaired vision in a single eye
How Does Cataract Occur? Most cataracts develop when aging or injury alters the cells of the tissue that makes up the eye's lens. This can lead to the proteins and fibers in the lens tissue to start breaking down, causing vision to become hazy or cloudy.
Some inherited genetic disorders that cause other health problems can also increase your risk of developing cataracts. Other eye conditions, past eye surgery, or medical conditions such as diabetes can also cause an individual to develop a cataract. It has also been scientifically confirmed that long-term use of steroid medications, too, can cause cataracts to develop.
How Can Cataracts Be Prevented: The development of cataracts depending on the age of the individual can be regarded as a typical part of aging. But steps can be taken to protect the eye and slow the process:
There are no scientifically proven methods that are used to prevent cataracts or slow down their progression. But here are a few strategies that may be of help.
- Regular eye examinations. Having regular eye examinations can help detect not only cataracts but other eye problems at their earliest stages. The best advice will come from your doctor on how often you should have your eye examined.
- Quit smoking. Smoke that comes from smoking harms the eye. Though this has not been scientifically proven, it’s best to avoid anything that will affect your sight.
- Manage your health challenges. Any form of health challenges like diabetes that can increase the risk of developing cataracts should be well managed. Follow your treatment plan and avoid lapses.
- Eat Well. Try your best to eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables which ensures that you're getting many vitamins and nutrients. Do you know that fruits and vegetables have many antioxidants, which help maintain the health of your eyes?
Ultraviolet light from the sun may contribute to the development of cataracts. By wearing sunglasses, you block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays when you're outdoors from harming your eye.
Reduce alcohol consumption.
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause malfunctioning of the organs and hormones of the body, thereby increasing the risk of cataracts.
It is estimated that about 20 million people worldwide are blind due to cataracts. Statistics show that blindness from cataracts occurs in about 10 to 40 per 100,000 children in the developing world, and 1 to 4 per 100,000 children in the developed world. Cataracts occur more as you age. In the United States, it is estimated that cataracts occur in 68% of those over the age of 80 years. And this health challenge is more common in women, and less common in Hispanic and Black people.