How do cataracts develop?
The eye’s lens is responsible for helping to focus light on the retina in the back of the eye. Cataracts occur when proteins within the lens begin to cluster together, causing the lens to cloud. If the lens is cloudy, it cannot properly focus the image on the retina. This makes vision blurry and colors indistinct.
What causes cataracts?
In most cases, the culprit is the normal aging process. If you are age 65 or older, you probably have cataracts, but they may not have progressed to the point that they affect your vision. Certain lifestyle choices and relatively common health conditions, like diabetes, may hasten cataract development.
Nutrition may play at least a limited role. Heavy salt consumption, for example, appears to increase the risk of significant cataract development. Some research suggests that antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamins C and E, and selenium, may slow cataract development. All of these are available in common multivitamin formulas. Beyond that, the use of nutritional supplements carries its own risks; you should consult your physician before adding them to your diet.View Video
Are cataracts inevitable?
Yes and no. If you live long enough, you will almost certainly develop cataracts, because they are part of the normal aging process. However, studies suggest accumulated exposure to ultraviolet light causes the natural lens to cloud.
How will I know if I have a cataract?
Cataracts do NOT generally cause pain, discomfort, redness, discharge, or sudden, alarming vision changes that would lead you to seek immediate help. The changes caused by cataracts generally develop so slowly that you won’t notice them until they are serious enough to affect your normal lifestyle.
- Difficulty driving at night
- Difficulty seeing distant objects
- Blurry vision or dim vision
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Halos around lights
- Dull, washed-out colors
All of these are difficulties commonly associated with cataracts. Only a professional can determine if cataracts are the cause of your symptoms, but you can take our Cataract Quiz to find out if you are a candidate, then call Hollingshead Eye Center for an evaluation.
NOTE: Even if you think you do not have cataracts, you should seek medical attention if you are having troublesome eye symptoms.