Cataracts are a progressive condition of the eye where the normally clear lens becomes cloudy. Over time, this can cause blurry vision and interfere with daily activities such as reading and night driving. While conservative measures do help some patients, others will need to get surgery to correct their cataracts. Read on to learn more about cataracts, the causes and how surgery helps.
What are cataracts?
Cataracts are a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. They tend to develop slowly and don’t affect vision early on. Over time, cataracts will continue to worsen and interfere with vision.
In addition to clouded, blurred vision, the symptoms of cataracts include increasing night vision difficulties, sensitivity to light and glare, seeing halos around lights, double vision in one eye, the need for brighter light for daily activities, the fading or yellowing of colors, and frequent changes in prescriptions for eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Aging and injury to the eye are two of the most common causes for cataracts. Cataracts can also be caused by other eye conditions or past eye surgery, medical conditions such as diabetes and inherited genetic conditions. Long-term use of corticosteroid medications are known to cause cataracts to develop.
You can’t prevent aging or genetics, but you can work to reduce other risk factors for cataracts. Excessive exposure to sunlight, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, smoking and drinking excessively are all factors that increase your risk for cataracts.
While you can reduce some of your risk factors, no studies prove there is a way to prevent cataracts. Strategies that may help include getting regular eye examinations based on your age and family history, managing health problems that contribute to cataract formation, consuming a healthy diet, wearing sunglasses, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption.
Once cataracts are diagnosed, you can try more conservative treatment options such as brighter lighting and prescription eyeglasses. When these treatments have little or no effect in clearing your vision, surgery may be necessary. Surgery to place premium intraocular lenses is the most convenient, effective way to eliminate the need for glasses or contacts after cataract surgery and improve your vision. Surgery is done 4-8 weeks apart on each eye, if both eyes are affected.