Cataracts is a condition of the eye that is more common among people over the age of 65. In fact, more than half of Americans over the age of 65 will have cataracts. Cataracts cause a clouding of your eye’s lens which can impair vision. People with cataracts often have to stop operating a motor vehicle because their vision is clouded and cannot see clearly enough for driving. Cataracts are usually found during an annual eye exam that everyone should have, especially older adults that are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
Causes of Cataracts
When there is a build-up of protein in the lens which is in the front of the eye, it can make the vision cloudy. Cataracts prevent light from passing clearly to the lens of the eye which causes some loss of vision, though not complete blindness. It is similar to having dust or water in your eyes where you can see but it can be very cloudy and difficult to see clearly. The cataract will occur when the new lens form over the outside of the lens pushing all of the older cells to the center of the lens. The causes of cataracts depend on the type of cataract. With age-related cataracts, the cause is a normal result of aging while congenital cataracts are something someone is born with such as from an injury, improper development or infection. Secondary cataracts are from other conditions like diabetes, toxic substances, ultraviolet light, radiation or some drugs like diuretics. Traumatic cataracts are caused by injury to the eye. Other possible causes of cataracts are smoking cigarettes, heavy alcohol consumption, and air pollution.
Symptoms of Cataracts
Cataracts come on slowly where the first signs usually include a cloudy vision due to the blocking of light. Other symptoms include a vision that is blurry, foggy or filmy, progressive nearsightedness, colors beginning to look different, not being able to drive due to the glare from headlights, issues with glare during the day, double vision, and a sudden change in your glasses prescription.
Diagnosing and Treating Cataracts
Cataracts are diagnosed by a vision test from your optometrist. He will also want to see your glasses or contacts to see how well you see with or without them. Your pupils will be dilated and examined. If your vision can be corrected, your optometrist will prescribe you a different strength of eyeglasses or possibly bifocals. This is often enough to give you better sight without surgery. If they don’t work well enough, you will need to get surgery to correct the problem. Cataract surgery is a quick and easy procedure where you will be under general anesthesia and wake up hopefully with your cataracts corrected.