Understanding Cataracts: Causes, Symptoms, and Surgical Options

If you have a recent diagnosis of cataracts, you probably have a lot of questions. You aren’t alone. Every year, a significant number of individuals are diagnosed with cataracts, a common age-related eye condition that affects the clarity of the eye’s lens. However, understanding cataracts is crucial to getting the right help and treatment.

It’s important to know that cataracts often develop gradually. That is why the older you get, the more sticking to a regular eye exam schedule is crucial. Keep reading on to learn more about cataracts.

Understanding Cataracts: The Facts

Over 20.5 million Americans aged 40 and above are currently affected by cataracts. By age 65, more than 90 percent of individuals in the United States will develop cataracts. But what are they? Imagine looking through a foggy window – that’s how people with cataracts see the world.

Cataracts are a common eye condition causing a clouding of the lens that can lead to blurred vision and visual impairment. Understanding the symptoms associated with cataracts is crucial for early detection and timely intervention.

The Causes

While cataracts can be preventable, it can happen to anyone. There are some factors that can increase your risk. Some you can control, others you can’t.

  1. Age: The onset of cataracts generally initiates in individuals aged 40 years and older, with noticeable effects typically manifesting after the age of 60. It’s important to note that while more commonly affect older individuals, they can also develop in younger people.
  2. UV Radiation: Too much sun exposure can harm your eyes in many ways. It also increases your risk of cataracts. Make sure to wear sunglasses all year round!
  3. Smoking and Alcohol: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption aren’t helping your eyes at all. They also can lead to many other health complications—one more reason to kick them to the curb.
  4. Diabetes: Those with diabetes are at a higher risk of getting cataracts. When managed poorly, high blood sugar levels can accelerate cataract development. This can also lead to other eye problems as well.
The Symptoms

There are actually different types of cataracts. However, they all generally have the same symptoms. Here are some common signs to watch out for and discuss with your eye doctor.

  1. Blurry Vision: Talk to your doctor if things start to look hazy or less sharp. It could be a sign of cataracts, but it could also mean you need a new prescription.
  2. Sensitivity to Light: Maybe oncoming headlights at night are particularly bothersome to you. Or you even have difficulty seeing in dimly lit spaces.
  3. Fading Colors: This is usually a sign you’ve been developing cataracts for years. If you start to notice this, make an appointment as soon as possible.
  4. Double Vision: Cataracts sometimes induce double vision, also known as diplopia, in one eye. This differs from the double vision experienced when both eyes are open, caused by misalignment.
The Solutions

The great thing about cataracts is that they’re treatable! When they start affecting your daily life, it’s time to consider cataract surgery. There are a few different surgical options to choose from:

  1. Phacoemulsification: This is the most common cataract surgery. A tiny incision is made, and an ultrasound device breaks up the cloudy lens, which is removed and replaced with an artificial one. Quick and effective!
  2. Extracapsular Surgery: In more advanced cases, where the lens is too dense to be broken up, a larger incision is made, and the lens is removed in one piece. It’s like magic – the cloudiness disappears!
  3. Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery: Technology keeps advancing, and now lasers can help with cataract surgery. They’re used to make precise incisions and soften the lens before removal.

Help You to Understand Cataracts

By shedding light on the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, we aim to empower individuals to make informed decisions about their eye health and seek timely medical attention when necessary. If you suspect you have cataracts or other eye concerns, make an appointment with us, and let’s discuss your options.