What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. The lens is located behind the iris and the pupil.
Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 (22 million people) and is the most common cause of blindness.
Types of Cataracts
Subcapsular cataract – occurs in the back of the lens. Diabetics and people on above-average doses of steroids have a higher risk of developing a subcapsular cataract.
Nuclear cataract – occurs deep in the lens’s central zone (nucleus) and is linked with the aging process.
Cortical cataract – begins on the outside of the lens and works toward the center. It’s a white, wedge-like cloudiness.
Dr. Dougherty of Dougherty Laser Vision explains what cataracts are as well as its causes and symptoms.
Symptoms of Cataracts
- Blurred, hazy vision
- Light from the sun or a lamp may appear too bright
- Oncoming headlights from cars at night appear more glaring than normal
- Colors may be more muted than you remember
Take note that cataract symptoms may vary depending on the type of cataract you have. For example, you may even experience an improvement in your near vision. This is temporary and is associated with a nuclear cataract. Vision ultimately does get worse as the cataract worsens. Other symptoms are no symptoms at all in the near term. Only when the cataract worsens will symptoms appear. This is associated with a subcapsular cataract.
What Causes Cataracts?
The lens is comprised of protein and water. As we age, the protein that provides eye clarity begins to clump and thus cause cloudiness in an area of the lens. If this happens, you have a cataract. The more developed a cataract becomes, the more difficult it becomes for you to see.
Aside from age, there are other factors that contribute to the risk of cataracts:
- High myopia
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Previous eye injury or inflammation
- Significant alcohol consumption
- Statin medicines used to reduce cholesterol
- Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and other sources
When symptoms of cataracts begin to appear, vision can be improved with glasses and adjusted lighting. However, as cataracts progress consider surgery to have them removed. Cataract surgery is straightforward and relatively painless. Nine out of 10 people regain excellent vision between 20/20 and 20/40.