A cataract is what happens when your eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy. The lens is found behind your iris and pupil. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness and other types of vision loss in people over the age of 40. With over 22 million American seniors affected by cataracts, it’s important to know and understand them better.
Signs and Symptoms
The first signs of a cataract may simply be some slightly blurry vision, cloudy vision, or vision that is dimmer than usual. Other possible symptoms are listed below. If you suspect you may have a cataract, contact your eye doctor and schedule an appointment.
- Increasing difficulty with seeing at night or in dim light
- Sudden or recent sensitive to light and glare
- Having to change glasses or contact lens prescriptions more frequently
- Needing brighter light for reading
- Seeing double vision in one eye
- Seeing halos around lights
- Seeing colors as faded or yellowish
Causes, Prevention, and Treatment
The lens inside your eye is made up of water and protein. As we age, some of the protein can start to clump together and create a cloudy area on part of the lens. Over time, that cloudy area can get larger. People who smoke or drink alcohol in excess, and those who have diabetes, hypertension, or obesity are more likely to develop cataracts. Previous eye injuries, past eye surgery, hormone replacement therapy, and a family history of cataracts also make a person more likely to develop them as they age.
Several studies have suggested that adding certain vitamins and nutrients to your diet–like vitamins E and C, carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin–can help to prevent or reduce your risk of developing cataracts. Many doctors also suggest that wearing sunglasses with 100 percent UV rays protection when you are outside is a great way to help prevent cataracts.
If you are already experiencing symptoms of cataracts, there are still some things you can do to help improve your vision. Use new, strong glasses and make sure the lighting is bright when you read or use your eyes in any other way that could strain them. If your cataracts have already progressed enough to impair your vision significantly, talk to your doctor about surgery to help with your vision. Cataract surgery is fairly simple and painless and can help you to regain most of your sight quickly.