Cataracts: Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the student.

Cataracts are the most common reason for vision loss in individuals over age 40 and is the primary reason for loss of sight on the planet. In fact, there are more cases of cataracts worldwide than there are of glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy combined, according to Prevent Loss of sight America (PBA).

What Is Cataracts

Today, cataracts impact more than 22 million Americans age 40 and older. And as the U.S. population ages, more than 30 million Americans are anticipated to have cataracts by the year 2020, PBA states.

Types of cataracts include:

  • A subcapsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens. People with diabetes or those taking high dosages of steroid medications have a greater risk of developing a subcapsular cataract.
  • A nuclear cataract types deep in the central zone (nucleus) of the lens. Nuclear cataracts generally are related to aging.
  • A cortical cataract is identified by white, wedge-like opacities that begin in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the center in a spoke-like fashion. This type of cataract takes place in the lens cortex, which is the part of the lens that surrounds the main nucleus.

Many cataracts establish gradually and do not disrupt your eyesight early on. However with time, cataracts will ultimately interfere with your vision.

Cataract Symptoms and Signs

A cataract starts out small and in the beginning has little result on your vision. You may notice that your vision is blurred a little bit, like checking out a cloudy piece of glass or seeing an impressionist painting.

A cataract might make light from the sun or a lamp appear too brilliant or glaring. Or you may observe when you own at night that the oncoming headlights cause more glare than previously. Colors may not look like bright as they once did.

The kind of cataract you have will impact precisely which symptoms you experience and how soon they will occur. When a nuclear cataract first develops, it can produce a temporary enhancement in your near vision, called “2nd sight.”

Regrettably, the improved vision is brief and will vanish as the cataract intensifies. On the other hand, a subcapsular cataract might not produce any symptoms till it’s strong.

If you think you have a cataract, see an optometrist for an exam to find out for sure.

Cataracts Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What Causes Cataracts?

The lens inside the eye works much like a camera lens, focusing light onto the retina for clear vision. It likewise adjusts the eye’s focus, letting us see things plainly both up close and far away.

The lens is mostly made of water and protein. The protein is arranged in an accurate manner in which keeps the lens clear and lets light pass through it.

But as we age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a little area of the lens. This is a cataract, and over time, it may grow bigger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see.

No one understands for sure why the eye’s lens modifications as we age, forming cataracts. However researchers worldwide have identified aspects that might cause cataracts or are associated with cataract development. Besides advancing age, cataract risk factors consist of:

  • Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and other sources
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
  • Statin medicines used to lower cholesterol
  • Previous eye injury or swelling
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Hormonal agent replacement therapy
  • Substantial alcohol intake
  • High myopia
  • Family history

One theory of cataract development that’s gaining favor is that lots of cataracts are brought on by oxidative changes in the human lens. This is supported by nutrition studies that show fruits and veggies high in antioxidants might help prevent certain types of cataracts (see listed below).

Cataract Prevention

Though there is significant controversy about whether cataracts can be avoided, a number of studies recommend specific nutrients and nutritional supplements may reduce your risk of cataracts.

One large, 10-year research study of female health specialists discovered that greater dietary intakes of vitamin E and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin from food and supplements were related to substantially decreased dangers of cataract.

Good food sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds and spinach. Excellent sources of lutein and zeaxanthin consist of spinach, kale and other green, leafy veggies.

Other research studies have actually revealed antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C and foods containing omega-3 fats may decrease cataract risk.

Another step you can require to decrease your risk of cataracts is to use protective sunglasses that block 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays when you are outdoors.

Cataract Treatment

When symptoms begin to appear, you may have the ability to improve your vision for a while utilizing brand-new glasses, strong bifocals, zoom, appropriate lighting or other visual aids.

Consider surgery when your cataracts have actually advanced enough to seriously impair your vision and impact your life.

Lots of people consider bad vision an inescapable fact of aging, however cataract surgery is an easy, relatively painless procedure to gain back vision.

Cataract surgery is extremely effective in restoring vision. In fact, it is the most frequently carried out surgery in the United States, with more than 3 million Americans going through cataract surgery each year, according to PBA.

Nine from 10 people who have cataract surgery regain excellent vision, somewhere between 20/20 and 20/40.

During surgery, the cosmetic surgeon will eliminate your clouded lens and in many cases change it with a clear, plastic intraocular lens (IOL).

New IOLs are being established all the time to make the surgery less complicated for cosmetic surgeons and the lenses more handy to patients. Presbyopia-correcting IOLs potentially assist you see at all distances, not simply one. Another new type of IOL blocks both ultraviolet and blue light rays, which research indicates might harm the retina.

Also, men ought to be aware that specific prostate drugs can cause intraoperative floppy iris syndrome (IFIS) during a cataract procedure.

Updated: April 4, 2017 — 4:28 pm

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