A person’s vision can change little by little throughout their life. If vision changes include cloudiness or a change in recognizing colors, however, it may be something more.
When it feels like you are looking through a foggy window, cataracts may be to blame. And while any eye trouble can be disconcerting, this common condition can be treated. Here are 5 things to know about cataracts and how they are treated.
Cataracts are very common
Cataracts are a very common condition that affect a large portion of the population. More than half of all Americans have cataracts or have had surgery for cataracts by the time they turn 80. Cataracts occur when proteins in the lens of the eye clump together. Light passes through the transparent lens of the eye to the retina, and the lens helps to focus the light. As more clumps form in the lens, it becomes cloudy and light is scattered, causing blurred vision.
Young people can have cataracts
Most cataracts are age-related, but they can actually form at a younger age. Some cataracts are congenital and children are either born with them or they develop at a young age. Cataracts can also form after an eye injury, surgery or due to some medical conditions. Cataracts may develop as early as age 40, but they can go unnoticed for some time. The cataracts develop slowly, so vision may not be affected for years. Over time, the cataract grows and vision begins to noticeably deteriorate.
There are several kinds of cataracts
Not all cataracts are the same. They form in different areas of the eye and have different symptoms. A nuclear cataract forms in the center of the lens, darkening the lens and affecting the ability to see colors correctly. Cortical cataracts begin on the outer edges of the lens and streak towards the center over time. Cataracts that form at the back of the lens interfere with reading and vision in bright light and cause glare at night. This kind of cataract can progress more rapidly than other forms.
Surgery for cataracts is very successful
Minor cataracts may not seriously affect vision and need no treatment. Some cataracts can also be treated with a new eyeglass prescription and anti-glare coating on glasses. However, cataracts that interfere with everyday activities may need surgery. Cataract surgery involves removing the lens from the eye and putting an artificial lens in. It is one of the most common surgeries and is very safe. About 90 percent of people who have cataract surgery have improved vision as a result.
You can lower your risk for cataracts
There is no proven way to prevent cataracts or stop their progression. However, there are some risk factors that can be addressed and healthy habits that may help improve eye health. “Stop smoking and protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays with hats and sunglasses, and eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetable,” said Becca Lund, MDS, at Pointe Meadows Health and Rehabilitation. “A diet high in antioxidants and vitamins and minerals may help reduce the risk of developing cataracts.”
As cataracts develop over time, they can cause a big change in vision to the point that quality of life is affected. With appropriate treatment, vision can be improved and people can return to enjoying everyday activities.
This article was originally published by the Orange County Register.