What Are Cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the natural clear lens of your eye. This clouding blocks the passage of light through the eye which can cause vision issues. The lens of your eye helps to focus light or images on the retina, which is the light light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. In a normal eye, the light is able to pass through the clear lens directly to the retina. The retina then transmits the light into nerve signals which are sent to the brain for transmission and recognition of what you see. In order to see clearly, the lens must be free of clouding. If the lens is clouded with a cataract, your vision will be blurred because the retina will not receive the proper amount of light.
It is sometimes difficult to target the exact cause of cataracts, however injury, certain diseases, and medications all contribute to its development.
Vision impairment is the most significant symptom of a cataract. In the early stages, if the cataract is small, you may experience little to no vision issues. However, once a cataract has progressed, the cloudiness can further envelop the clear lens which ultimately distorts vision. Other symptoms include glare, haloes or arcs around lights. Some symptoms such as a browning or yellowing of colors occur so slowly over time that a person is often unaware of them. Patients commonly happily observe how bright and vibrant colors appear after cataract surgery!
Am I at Risk for Cataracts?
Cataracts are usually the result of aging; however young individuals, even children, can develop cataracts as well. As you age, the risk factors for cataract increase.
Risk factors include:
- Underlying health issues such as diabetes, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and congenital problems
- Use of tobacco, alcohol, and steroid medicines
- Exposure to prolonged sunlight (UV Rays)
- Family history (genetics)
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