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Think of your eye as a camera lens, you go to take a picture but you can’t quite snap a clear image because of something fogging up the lens. This is similar to the vision of a person with cataracts. Cataracts cloud the visual field so that light cannot pass through the lens as precisely, resulting in poor vision.

Simply put, the way we are able to see is the result of hard working parts of the eye. The lens is the portion of the eye behind the pupil that channels light to the retina. The retina is where are images are formed. The lens of our eye is made up of water and proteins, and as we age those proteins can break apart or clump together to form cloudy vision. When the proteins clump together it fractures the light trying to reach the retina, so it makes it more difficult to develop a clear image.

Symptoms

Cataracts can have a variety of contributing factors, including genetics. Some risk factors are excessive exposure to sunlight, alcohol use, smoking, age, and other diseases. An acute awareness of what some of the symptoms are can help diagnose this eye disease earlier. If you happen to get cataracts as a result of one of these risk factors here are some of the symptoms you might experience:
  • Clouded or blurry vision
  • Limited night vision
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Frequent changes in your prescription
  • Halos in the visual field

Types

Cataracts are a fairly common eye disease found typically in older individuals. It develops mostly with age, but can also be the result of smoking or diabetes. While it is more commonly found in older individuals, people in their 40-50 can be diagnosed with cataracts but usually in a milder form. There are a variety of types of cataracts in including:

  • Secondary cataract: Result from other eye and health-related problems like glaucoma or diabetes.
  • Traumatic cataract: If you experienced trauma involving your eyes, cataracts can for later.
  • Congenital cataract: This form of cataracts if found in babies or developed during early childhood. They usually are not as severe and the clouding is minimal.
  • Radiation cataract: Exposure to radiation can cause cataracts to form.

Detecting Cataracts

Detecting cataracts are important so you can seek treatment from a professional. At an annual eye exam, they can test for cataracts and help you to move forward with treatment options if you are diagnosed. An ophthalmologist can detect cataracts in a few ways:

Visual acuity test: This is the eye chart you typically see at the office with the various letters. Visual acuity is used to measure the extent of your vision clarity from a distance.

Dilated eye exam: Dilating drops are placed in your eye to widen your pupils, this helps the doctor look at your lens, retina and optic nerve ensuring optimum functionality.

Tonometry device: This device is used to measure the pressure of your eye

Treatment

If you are diagnosed with cataracts it is important to note that there are different types of treatments available. The first treatment step to take if you are diagnosed can even be simple as new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. These work to improve the funneling of light to your retina.

If the less invasive techniques don’t better your vision, surgery to remove the cataract may be the best option for you. Surgery should be considered case-by-case, but if the clouded vision starts to affect everyday functionality or if it prevents the treatment of another eye problem, then surgery should be taken into consideration. Surgery is typically under an hour and some patients chose to stay awake. It is a less invasive surgical procedure, and most patients go home the same day.

There are different treatment options available for every case. Make sure to speak with your ophthalmologist about the treatment plan that is right for your unique needs. Having cataracts should not deter you from living a happy and healthy life.

Cataracts are a degenerative eye disease that develops over time. Taking steps to promote overall eye health is a great way to reduce your chances of getting cataracts. Eating foods that are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Iron, and B vitamins can help promote good eye health. Make sure to get annual check-ups on your eyes and if any of the symptoms start to appear, bring them to your doctor's attention.
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Anath Foundation

A portion of your purchase is donated to the Anath Foundation to help families on their cancer journey. Learn more about the impact of your purchase!

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