Everything You Need to Know About Cataracts
When it comes to healthy vision, many only think of the most common ailments: farsightedness, near-sightedness, blindness and more. After all, they’re why there are so many great eyewear products to choose from, right?
Unfortunately, there are quite a few additional issues that can interfere with one’s eyesight. Of these, cataracts are one of the most prominent, impacting about 62.4 million people worldwide. Frightening numbers, to be sure — but not hopeless.
So, what exactly are cataracts? And, more importantly, can they be prevented? Stick around as we answer these questions and more.
Cataracts: What They Are and What They Do
In healthy eyes, lenses will refract light rays onto the retina, enabling sight. While this sounds simple enough, the clarity of your vision is only as good as the clarity of those lenses; in some cases, a person’s lenses can become cloudy due to protein build-up - also known as cataracts.
When this issue occurs, light struggles to pass through the lens as normal, causing hazy, blurry or even colourless vision. If left untreated, cataracts will continue to build up over time and can eventually lead to total blindness. People with this condition will often have eyes with cloudy pupils, making them quite noticeable to others.
What Can Cause Someone to Develop Cataracts?
There are a few reasons why an individual may develop cataracts, though all are due to the same build-up of proteins in the eye.
The most common causes of cataract development are:
- Normal Aging: It is no secret that aging is linked to various health issues, and vision is no exception. As one grows older, it is more likely that they will develop cataracts.
- Trauma: Burns, blunt impacts, electric shock and other forms of severe trauma can be enough to cause cataract development.
- Underlying Conditions: Diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, substance abuse and more have been linked with cataract development.
- Hereditary: In some cases, new-born babies and children can develop cataracts due to poor womb development, infection or injury.
How Can You Get Rid of Cataracts?
There are two main routes that can aid an individual with cataracts:
- Non-surgical Treatment: Those who prefer to avoid surgery will most often opt for new eyeglasses, magnifying lenses, anti-glare sunglasses and other solutions. Adjusting in-house lighting and reducing exposure to the sun can also reduce symptoms and prevent additional cataract development.
- Surgical Treatment: If cataracts don’t respond to non-surgical treatment, there is often no other choice but to undergo a removal operation. There are three different procedure methods, but all involve making an incision into the patient’s eye to remove the cataract.
How Can Someone Prevent Cataracts?
Now for the good news: Cataracts can be prevented! By closely following these practical lifestyle tips, you can ensure you never have to deal with this condition in the future:
- Eat foods high in vitamins C and E.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV light.
- Limit alcohol consumption and quit smoking.
- Get regular eye exams with your provider.