A cataract is a condition that results in a cloudy, dense area in the eye’s lens. It starts developing when proteins in the eye form clumps or masses that prevent the eye’s lens from transmitting clear images to the retina. The retina converts the light coming through the lens into signals. It then sends those signals to the optic nerve, which transmits them to the brain.
A cataract develops slowly. Eventually, however, it will start interfering with your vision. You might develop cataracts in both eyes, but they usually do not develop simultaneously. This condition is typical in older individuals. More than 50 percent of people in the U.S. have cataracts or underwent cataract surgery by 80 years old.
If you are more than 60 years of age and your vision is getting cloudy or blurry, you may have cataracts. Since this condition develops slowly, it will not affect your eyesight early on. With time, however, you will start to notice certain symptoms. At first, eyeglasses and stronger lighting can help you deal with the condition. However, when impaired vision affects your usual activities, you should consider having cataract surgery, which is generally safe and effective.
Since cataracts tend to form slowly, you may not notice any symptoms until they start to block light. Usually, the initial symptom is a small area of blurred vision. Gradually, this area is likely to grow bigger as the lens of your eye clouds over. Eventually, you will feel like your overall vision is blurry or dull.
You may also experience color changes in your eye’s lens, causing things you look at to have a brownish or yellowish cast. Over time, you may find it difficult to distinguish colors, especially shades of purple and blue. You will also have trouble performing tasks such as reading, which requires you to distinguish colors.
Other symptoms and signs of cataracts may include poor night vision, double vision, and sensitivity to sunlight, headlights, and lamps. You may also start seeing halos around lights. A need to frequently change your contact lenses or eyeglasses prescription is another symptom of cataracts. When you experience any sudden or gradual changes in your vision, you need to visit an eye doctor right away.
There are no proven methods or steps to prevent cataracts. However, certain lifestyle changes may help to slow down or prevent their development. Some of the potentially helpful measures include:
If you are a smoker, you need to kick the habit as soon as possible.
Wear UV light-blocking eyeglasses or sunglasses while outdoors.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Have regular eye exams.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol.
Manage high blood pressure or diabetes if you have it.
Follow a healthy diet rich in veggies and fruits.
Most of these measures have other health benefits beyond good eye health and potentially preventing cataracts.
To learn more about cataract detection and prevention, call Eyecare Center Optometrist, PSC, at our offices in Lexington, Richmond, Beattyville, McKee, or Irvine, Kentucky. Call us today at (859) 208-2020.