What Causes Cataracts?
Although cataracts are typically associated with aging, multiple factors can increase your risk of developing a cataract earlier in life. Since everyone will develop cataracts if they live long enough, cataracts are extremely common.
Learning about cataracts can help you monitor for symptoms and get help when needed. Keep reading to find out what causes cataracts!
What Is a Cataract?
Before we explore the causes of cataracts, it’s important that you first understand what exactly they are. A cataract occurs when your eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy and hardened.
Your lens is located behind the pupil and the iris, the colored part of your eye. Typically, your eye’s natural lens is transparent, allowing it to effectively focus light on the retina.
This process allows you to view clear images. When the lens is clouded, it prevents light rays from passing through as they should, resulting in blurry vision.
What Are the Causes of Cataracts?
The most common cause of cataracts is aging. That’s why they are usually found in individuals who are fifty-five and older.
These are called age-related cataracts. Your eye’s natural lens contains proteins. As you get older, these begin to break down and clump together.
This process causes a cloudiness in the lens that worsens over time. Although it is the most common one, aging is not the only factor that can contribute to the development of a cataract.
Sometimes, cataracts can form earlier in life if you’ve had eye surgery, such as treatment for glaucoma. Since they are associated with age, it may surprise you to hear that even babies can be born with cataracts.
These are called congenital cataracts. Children can also develop them. In fact, a cataract can develop at any point in your life.
Certain lifestyle choices can impact your likelihood of developing a cataract earlier in life as well. These include smoking and spending too much time outside without proper protection from the sun.
Trauma to the eye and exposure to certain kinds of radiation can also contribute to the development of a cataract. Some conditions, like diabetes, can also increase your risk of developing a cataract.
So can certain medications, including steroids. Cataracts that develop due to medication or other health conditions are typically called secondary cataracts.
Finally, your genetics play a role in your cataract risk. You can inherit an increased risk of developing a cataract from your parents.
What Are the Signs of Cataracts?
Cataracts tend to develop gradually over time. So, you may not notice any changes to your vision at first, or symptoms may be so mild that they don’t bother you.
However, as the cataract develops, it can affect your vision more and more. The effects of a cataract can extend beyond blurry vision and can affect your day-to-day life in many ways.
You may experience glare around bright lights, and sensitivity to light in general. At the same time, you may need additional light in order to perform basic tasks up close, like reading.
While a cataract can impair your vision during the day, many people complain of poor vision at night in particular. A cataract affects your ability to discern contrast between colors, causing colors to appear muddied or dull.
This can make it especially hard to see in low-light conditions. Driving at night can become difficult or even impossible.
The world around you may not appear as vibrant as it used to be, as you may notice that the world is more yellowed or faded. Double vision in one eye is also a common symptom.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor for a proper diagnosis.
When Should You Consider Cataract Surgery?
More than three million cataract surgeries are performed every year. Although this procedure is common, not everyone with a cataract needs surgery right away.
If it’s not bothering you, cataract surgery may not be necessary at the moment. When your cataracts progress to the point where it interferes with your everyday activities, it’s time to consider surgery.
If regular tasks like reading and driving have become difficult, or you’re even avoiding them completely, cataract surgery can eliminate the source of your symptoms. If left untreated, a cataract can eventually result in decreased vision, in some cases to the point of blindness.
At Eye Associates of Tallahassee, our eye doctors will carefully consider your individual needs in order to decide on the best treatment option for you. Sometimes, a cataract may need to be removed if it affects our ability to examine or treat another eye condition.
Cataract surgery is so effective that it has an excellent success rate. The procedure works by replacing your clouded lens with a clear, artificial one.
Thanks to the advanced technology available today, we can even reduce your dependence on glasses during surgery by opting for a premium lens.
Is a cataract making daily life difficult for you? Schedule an appointment at Eye Associates of Tallahassee in Tallahassee, FL, today!