Know the Facts About Cataracts

Did you know, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world? Cataracts affect nearly 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older.* If you are over the age of 50, you should have a yearly comprehensive eye exam to detect cataracts as they develop.

A cataract is the clouding of the lens in your eye. Many people describe the feeling as if you are looking through a foggy or frosted window.

What causes cataracts?

Clouding of the natural lens in your eye is caused by proteins clumping together within the lens. It is unknown why the eye changes as the body ages, but these changes may cause cataracts to grow larger over time, resulting in an increased difficulty to see clearly.

Some factors that have been linked to cataract development are diabetes, obesity, smoking, ultraviolet radiation, and family history.

Symptoms

Symptoms associated with cataracts can vary from person to person. However, there are a few key symptoms associated with most cases of cataract development. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, schedule a visit with your eye doctor to discuss your risk or development of cataracts.

  • Slight blur in vision
  • Vision is cloudy
  • Sunlight or lamps feel too bright
  • Headlights have more glare and/or a halo around them
  • Colors no longer appear as bright as they once did

Types of cataracts

Subcapsular

Subcapsular cataracts typically occur in the back of the lens and are most common in individuals with diabetes or those taking a high dose of steroid medication.

Nuclear

Nuclear cataracts are associated with aging and occur in the central zone of the lens.

Cortical

Cortical cataracts occur in the lens cortex and are associated with streaks which interfere with light passage through the eye.

Congenital

Congenital cataracts are present at birth and may be due to genetics or intrauterine infection.

Are cataracts preventable?

No studies have shown a way to prevent cataracts, however, there are recommended practices to help maintain eye health and lower your risk of developing cataracts.

  • Yearly comprehensive eye exams help maintain eye health and detect the development of cataracts at an early stage.
  • Smoking has been linked to the development of cataracts. Quitting smoking provides a variety of health benefits lowering your risk for further cataract development.
  • Keeping up with treatment if you have diabetes or other medical conditions will help minimize your risk.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables, provides increased overall eye health.
  • Wearing sunglasses to prevent ultraviolet radiation will decrease your risk of UV damage which has been linked to the development of cataracts.

 

*National Eye Institute

FAQs: About My Symptoms

An overview and explanation of common eye symptoms.

Whether you or someone you know is suffering from a common eye-related condition, we know that you want the facts! Here are some of the most common questions and eye-related disorders we see in our office every day. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or have questions about your eye health, give us a call to schedule your next appointment today.

Why are my eyes red?

Red or bloodshot eyes are a common problem caused by swollen or dilated blood vessels on the outer surface of the eye. Sometimes red eyes bother people because they are in pain, but that’s not always the case.

Potential causes of red eye include:

  • Allergies
  • Pink eye
  • Eye trauma

Why are my eyes itching?

Itchy eyes are one of the most common eye-related condition that patients experience. When an allergen (irritating substance) enters the eyes, your immune system responds with a natural defense mechanism by releasing a chemical causing the itching sensation.

Potential causes of itchy eyes include:

  • Allergies
  • Prolonged use of digital devices
  • Contact lens usage

How do I reduce my symptoms of itchy eyes?

To reduce your allergy symptoms try using eye drops to help lubricate your eyes. While rubbing can provide temporary relief it puts you at risk for damaging your cornea or adding even more allergens and bacteria into your eye.

Why are my eyes puffy?

Swelling around the eyes is due to excessive fluids in the skin tissue. As this fatty tissue gains fluid it begins to push forward and “bags” form under the eye.

Excessive fluid and puffy eyes can be caused by:

  • Allergies
  • Sinus problems
  • Dehydration
  • Overconsumption of salt
  • Fatigue or lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Aging
  • Crying

What is causing my burning, itchy eyes?

The sensation of burning eyes can be caused by a variety of everyday environments. For example, exposure to products such as makeup, facial cleansers, or shampoo may cause burning or itchy symptoms. Other factors like allergies, wind, and environmental irritants can also cause burning in your eyes. Keep track of what surroundings or products are causing these symptoms and try to reduce your exposure. If you live in a high wind or sandy environment, try wearing a pair of wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from the elements when outdoors.

I’m seeing spots and floaters, why?

Spots and floaters are a shadow in your vision caused by bits of protein and tissue in the gel-like matter in your eyes. It is normal to occasionally see spots or floaters in your vision and will become more common with age as the gel-like material in your eye begins to dissolve and liquefy.

I am experiencing eye pain, what should I do?

If you are experiencing prolonged eye pain or have a foreign object enter your eye, call our office immediately. It is important not to rub your eyes or try to remove the object yourself as this may irritate your eye further.

Describing Your Symptoms

Being able to describe th