A cataract clouds the lens of the eye, steadily causing loss of vision. The lens transfers light to the retina at the back the eye where images are formed, allowing us to focus on objects both near and far. Cataracts occur when proteins in the lens clump together and begin to cloud a small area of the lens. Images become blurred or distorted because light cannot pass through the lens as well. The cataract may become cloudier over time, steadily making it more difficult to see. The lens is made up of the nucleus (its center), the lens cortex (periphery) and the capsule (membrane that envelops the lens). Any of these parts can contain cataracts.
Who most often gets Cataracts?
Cataracts generally form as a result of age, traumatic injury, certain diseases, particular medications or long-term exposure to sunlight. In some cases, children are born with cataracts or develop them as they grow, primarily due to birth defects, diseases or other congenital issues.
Other risk factors include:
- Certain diseases, such as diabetes
- Lifestyle behaviors, such as smoking and alcohol abuse
- Prolonged exposure to sunlight
- Prolonged exposure to radiation
- Steroid use
- Poor diet, lack of nutrition
- Fetal exposure to infection, radiation, steroids, alcohol, other abusive substances
What are some of the symptoms of cataracts?
- Blurred or cloudy vision
- Colors may seem faded
- Poor night vision
- Double vision
- Eyeglass or contact lens prescription changes frequently
- Sunlight or lighting may seem too bright
- Seeing a halo around lights
How are cataracts diagnosed?
In order to detect cataracts, your eye doctor will place drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils. A thorough eye exam will be conducted to study the crystalline lens of your eye, as well as to check the optic nerves and retina for changes that might be contributing to your vision complaints.