When it comes to eye disease, cataracts are the most common, affecting more than 24 million people age 40 or older in the United States. In fact, by the time Americans reach the age of 75, about half have cataracts.
To give you a better idea about what cataracts are and how this condition develops, Dr. Curtis Frank and the team here at MyEyeDr. review four causes of cataracts below. As well, we also discuss your treatment options for helping you see more clearly.
The basics of cataracts
The term cataracts describes a condition in which the lenses in your eyes become cloudy due to the breakdown of proteins in the lenses. As a result, you may develop one or more of the following vision issues:
- Blurry vision
- Poor nighttime vision
- Double vision
- Light sensitivity
- Faded color vision
Cataracts are generally progressive, and these symptoms may be minor, at first, and get progressively worse as the cataracts progress.
How cataracts develop
As you might have surmised from the statistics we presented about cataracts, age is the primary cause of cataracts. The breakdown of the proteins in your lenses is perfectly natural, but there are factors that can accelerate this process, such as:
- Family history of cataracts
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Having diabetes
Outside of age and these risk factors, cataracts develop less commonly due to:
- Trauma to your eye
- Radiation treatments that damage your lenses
- Congenital cataracts, which is extremely rare
No matter how your cataracts developed, the good news is that there are solutions.
If we detect early cataracts, there’s much we can do with corrective lenses to maintain your vision. During the early stages, there are steps that you can take on your own to offset the eye condition, such as:
- Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet radiation
- Mitigating your risk factors (for example, quitting smoking or controlling your blood sugar if you have diabetes)
- Adding more light when you read
- Avoiding driving at night
While these measures can slow the progression of your cataracts, as well as address some of the issues related to the eye condition, you may reach a point where surgery is your best option.
Cataract surgery is a highly effective procedure in which your lenses are removed and replaced with artificial lenses. To give you an idea about success rates, 90% of people who undergo cataract surgery experience improvement in their vision.
As optometrists, our role in your cataract journey is to diagnose and treat the disease in its early stages. If we feel that you can benefit from surgery, we point you in the right direction.
If you’d like to learn more about cataracts and your treatment options, contact one of our offices in Boston or Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts, to set up an appointment.