Did you know more than half of Americans who are 80 or older either had or have cataracts? Find out how cataracts affect your vision, what they are and what you can do to help.
What are cataracts?
Cataracts are cloudy areas in the lens of your eye. Imagine looking through a fogged-up or frosted window.
Cataracts lead to a similar blurry or hazy view of things around you. In general, they develop slowly and usually in both eyes. However, the rate at which cataracts develop in each eye may differ.
What causes cataracts?
Simply put, cataracts tend to develop as a natural part of aging or because of an injury. Scientifically speaking, as we age our lens becomes less transparent, less flexible and thicker.
Aging and other medical conditions can lead to a breakdown of proteins and fibers in the lens. As they break down, they begin to clump together—thus, causing cloudy vision.
Things to look for
Besides cloudy, blurry or hazy vision, there are several other symptoms of cataracts. For instance, it can become harder and harder for you to see at night. Below are a few other things to look for:
- Fading, or yellowing, colors
- Seeing “halos” around lights
- Repeated changes in your eyewear prescriptions
- Double vision in one eye
The biggest risk when it comes to cataracts is aging. However, there are several other risk factors as well ranging from smoking to obesity. Additional risk factors include:
- Previous eye injuries or surgeries
- Prolonged or excessive sun exposure
- High blood pressure
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Certain types of medications
It’s a good idea to talk to your eye care professional about possible risk factors as well as how cataracts affect your vision personally.
When to see a doctor
Based on how cataracts affect your vision is a good indicator of when to go see your eye doctor. If daily activities such as watching TV, reading or driving are becoming harder and harder, make an appointment at your local eye care clinic.
What can you do to reduce the risk?
While the only treatment for cataracts is surgery, there are measures you can take to help reduce your risk or possibly slow down the development.
First of all, schedule regular eye exams. Secondly, quit smoking if you are a smoker. Thirdly, eat more fruits and vegetables and manage your overall health. Next up, limit the use of alcohol.
Finally, invest in a good pair of UV-protection sunglasses.
Remember, contact your eye doctor right away if you notice sudden changes in your vision or if you have sudden pain, including headaches. Otherwise, continue to schedule routine eye exams for yourself and your loved ones. Keep reading our blogs for more vision health news.