Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss in the United States and Canada. Here are 6 things you need to know.
1. Chances are you will develop a cataract!
Cataracts are considered part of the natural aging process so if you live long enough, you will likely eventually develop one.
2. A cataract is a clouding of the usually transparent lens in your eye.
The lens in your eye focuses light onto the retina at the back of your eye, allowing you to see. When your lens starts to clouds up, the images projected onto your retina become blurry and unfocused. You can compare this to looking through a dirty or cloudy window. If the window is not clear, you can’t see!
3. Age is not the only risk factor for cataract development.
While the risk of developing a cataract does increase as you age, it is not the only factor. Other risk factors include eye injury, certain medications (eg: steroids), diseases such as diabetes and macular degeneration, lifestyle choices such as alcohol consumption, smoking and prolonged exposure to the sun.
4. Your treatment options are not limited to surgery.
If cataracts are detected in the early stages of development, non-surgical options including stronger glasses or even better lighting go a long way to help alleviate the condition’s detrimental impact on your vision at first. However, most people do need cataract surgery eventually. Fortunately, the procedure is very low risk and has an excellent success rate. It is relatively non-invasive, often requiring no more than a tiny laser-assisted incision, performed in an outpatient clinic.
5. Cataracts have warning signs
Cataracts don’t suddenly develop overnight. If you notice you have cloudy vision or see halos around lights, have trouble with night vision or see double in one eye, make a visit to your eye doctor a priority so you can get it checked out.
6. What you eat can reduce your risks.
While making healthy food choices plays a vital role in your overall health, it can also play a very specific role in reducing your risk of cataract development. A study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that increased intake of vitamin C or the combined intake of multiple antioxidants significantly reduced the risk of cataracts in older adults.
Don’t let cataracts interfere with your quality of life. Be sure to schedule regular eye exams so that you stay on top of your overall eye health.