Eye Health: Spotlight on Cataracts

Elderly man with glasses having trouble seeing cell phone has vision problemsDid you know that cataracts are one of the most common causes of blindness worldwide? According to WHO, the World Health Organization, cataracts are responsible for approximately 51% of blindness worldwide. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. It keeps light from reaching the retina, which in turn causes blurred vision and other vision issues.

How Do You Get Cataracts?

The eye lens is composed of mostly protein and water, which is arranged in a certain manner to keep the lens clear and to enable light to reach the retina unobstructed. Sometimes, however, the proteins in a portion of the lens could build up and cloud that portion of the lens, essentially forming a cataract that might grow over time as more proteins clump together.

The National Eye Institute states that cataracts are a normal sign of aging and that the risk of developing them increases with every decade once you turn 40. They could likewise develop following eye surgery for other eye disorders such as glaucoma, radiation exposure, or eye injuries. Unfortunately, some individuals develop cataracts early on in life, while some even have them at birth. Additionally, various factors might speed up cataract development or increase your chances of developing cataracts. These include:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • A history of cataracts in the family
  • Long-term corticosteroid use
  • Eye inflammation
  • Use of antipsychotic medicines under the phenothiazine category
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Excessive exposure to UV rays

How to Know If You Have Cataracts

The thing with cataracts is that you may or may not notice that you have them during the early stages while they’re still small. As they grow, however, you might experience the following symptoms:

  • Hazy or blurred vision
  • Losing color intensity or color distortion
  • Double vision
  • Difficulty seeing things in dim light or at nighttime
  • Losing the ability to distinguish colors
  • Better near vision
  • Glare, in which light sources like bulbs, lamps, and headlights appear surrounded by halos or are just too bright

Early diagnosis is crucial because smaller cataracts can often be treated with brighter home lighting, stronger glasses, and magnifying lenses. If left untreated, cataracts could severely impair your vision, in which case you might need to undergo cataract surgery, warns a renowned ophthalmologist in Monmouth County, NJ. In severe cases, it could also lead to blindness. So if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, consult an ophthalmologist as soon as possible to determine if you have cataracts or another type of eye disorder.