What is a Cataract?
A cataract is a common condition that causes vision loss due to a clouding of the lens of the eye. Cloudiness develops as a result of a buildup of protein in the lens that prevents light from reaching the retina. Cataracts affect millions of people each year, including more than half of all Americans 60 years of age and older.
Causes of Cataracts
The lens within the eye clouds naturally as we age, causing a gradual reduction of vision. There are numerous other causes of cataracts, including:
- Excessive alcohol use
- Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light
- Family history of cataracts
- Exposure to radiation
- Eye surgery
Diagnosis of Cataracts
A comprehensive eye exam is necessary to diagnose the presence of cataracts. A series of tests are performed. Some of these tests may include:
- Visual acuity test
- A dilated eye exam
Symptoms of Cataracts
Patients with cataracts often do not experience any symptoms when the condition first develops. As cataracts progress patients may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Blurry or hazy vision
- Double vision
- Faded colors
- Poor vision in bright light
- Halos around lights
- Poor night vision
- Yellowish vision
- Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions
Non-Surgical Treatment of Cataracts
Early cataracts can sometimes be treated with non-surgical methods which may include:
- New eyeglass prescription
- Anti-glare sunglasses
- Magnifying lenses
- The use of stronger lighting
If cataracts begin to interfere with the ability to read, work, exercise or drive, cataract surgery may be recommended. During cataract surgery the clouded natural lens is replaced with a new artificial lens or intraocular lens.
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