What is a Cataract?
A cataract occurs when the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy.
What Causes Cataracts?
Aging is the most common cause of cataracts. The natural lens of the eye is made of mostly water and protein.
Over time, the protein starts to clump together and make the lens cloudy, which is called a cataract. As we age, cataracts start to become cloudier, making it harder to see things clearly.
Other factors besides aging that are risk factors for cataracts include:
- Sunlight exposure, tanning booths, sunlamps (ultraviolet radiation)
- Long-term use of corticosteroid medications (oral or inhaled steroids)
- Previous eye surgery (retinal surgery that removes the vitreous gel from the eye – vitrectomy)
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Taking statin medications to lower cholesterol
- Taking hormone replacement therapy
- Previous eye injury, trauma, or inflammation (uveitis)
- High myopia (excessive nearsightedness)
- Family history of cataracts
- Excessive exposure to ionizing radiation (X-rays or cancer radiation therapy)
Cataract Symptoms and Signs
Cataracts can cause the following:
- Blurred, cloudy, hazy or dim vision
- Difficulty driving at night due to halos around lights
- Difficulty driving in the rain
- Sensitivity to light or increasing glare
- Double vision in one eye
- Yellowing or fading of colors
- Needing frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
- Needing brighter light for reading
- “Second sight” – a temporary improvement in near vision
Types of Cataracts
There are three main types of cataracts:
A nuclear cataract is the most common type of age related cataract. Over time, the central portion of the lens inside the eye becomes less transparent. The lens also becomes yellow and hardens with age which causes light to scatter and blurs vision. This type of cataract usually develops slowly over many years.
A cortical cataract develops in the outside of the lens known as the lens cortex. Spoke-like opacities develop in the periphery and move towards the center of the lens, eventually scattering light. This type of cataract develops more commonly in people with diabetes.
A posterior subcapsular cataract develops in the back of the lens at the lens capsule. This type of cataract is more common in people who smoke or take steroid medications. They can develop rapidly and lead to decreased vision in a matter of months.
Nutrition for Cataract Prevention
- What happens before surgery
- The cataract procedure
- Video animation of cataract surgery
- Laser cataract surgery
- Risks and complications
- How to chose a cataract surgeon
- Cost of surgery