Cataract
Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Questions & Related Topics


Possible Symptoms for Cataract

Cataract symptoms may include:[1]

  • Blurry or dim vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Double vision
  • Fading of colors
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Difficulty performing tasks in low lighting
  • Frequent changes in glasses prescription
  • Frequent need for stronger reading glasses

Cataracts often develop slowly. Many people with cataracts experience gradual changes in their vision that can be hard to detect.[1] People with cataracts often assume that their vision changes are a normal part of aging. However, any vision changes should be reported to your eye doctor right away.

Vision changes can be particularly worrying if you have diabetes or high blood pressure. Sudden vision changes might indicate that you are at risk for serious health complications.[2]

Top 6 Cataract Causes

1. Aging

Most cataracts are caused by getting older. More than 50% of Americans have cataracts by age 80, and age-related cataracts can affect one or both eyes.[3]

2. Unhealthy lifestyle

Many lifestyle factors can put you at risk for cataracts. Cataracts are linked to obesity, smoking, and heavy drinking.[1] In contrast, a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of developing cataracts. Quitting tobacco and limiting alcohol can also keep your eyes healthy.

3. Eye injury or eye surgery

Damage to the eye can sometimes cause a cataract. Injury-related cataracts can affect anyone, regardless of age or overall health.[1] If you recently suffered an eye injury, see an eye doctor as soon as possible. Early treatment can help prevent long-term complications like cataracts.

Some cataracts are also caused by trauma during eye surgery. If you're scheduled for eye surgery, talk to your doctor about the risk of complications.

4. Prescription medications

Corticosteroids, statins, and hormone replacement therapy can all affect the lenses in your eyes.[1][4][5] Long-term exposure to these medications may increase your risk of cataracts. If you're taking any prescription medications, ask your doctor whether these drugs might affect your vision.

5. Diabetes

Diabetes can put you at risk for many different vision problems, including cataracts. Poorly controlled diabetes often leads to permanent vision damage.[2] Visiting your eye doctor regularly and controlling your blood sugar can reduce these risks.

6. High blood pressure

High blood pressure can also affect your vision.[1] Having high blood pressure for many years can cause permanent damage to your organs, including your eyes.  If you have high blood pressure, ask your eye doctor whether you're at risk for eye problems in the future.

2 Ways to Prevent Cataract

1. Stick to a healthy diet

Diet plays an essential role in preventing cataracts. Your eye doctor or family physician can provide more information on which foods are best for you. Most people benefit from eating a well-balanced diet. A healthy diet often incorporates plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.[1]

Nutrients that can help protect your eyes include:[6]

  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin C
  • Lutein
  • Omega -3 fatty acids
  • Zinc
  • Zeaxanthin

If you have trouble getting enough of these nutrients in your diet, multivitamins or dietary supplements may help. Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new supplements.

2. Wear sunglasses

Exposure to UV rays increases your chances of developing cataracts. Whenever you're outside, wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays.[1]

Possible Cataract Treatment Options

You may be able to improve your vision for a while with strong eyeglasses, brighter lights, and other visual aids, but cataracts usually worsen over time. Sooner or later, you will likely need surgery.[7] Your eye doctor can help you decide when it's time to schedule your surgery. Most people opt for surgery once their cataracts affect their ability to drive, read, or use the computer.

Eye surgery may seem frightening, but cataract surgery can significantly improve your vision. In most cases, cataract surgery can be performed as a minor outpatient procedure.

Before surgery, your surgeon administers a local anesthetic and a sedative. You may be awake during the procedure, but the sedative helps you relax and may keep you from remembering the procedure. During surgery, your surgeon makes a tiny incision in the surface of your eye. He or she removes your natural lens and inserts a new artificial lens. The surgeon then closes the incision and places a shield over your eye.[7]

Following your surgery, you may need special eye drops or other medications.[7] You might also be given special eyeglasses or a device to shield your eyes. Your eye doctor usually meets with you for a follow-up appointment a few weeks after your surgery. During this appointment, your doctor checks to make sure your eye is healing. He or she will also let you know when you can resume your normal activities.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Cataract Treatment:

  • How long have you been experiencing vision problems?
  • Do your symptoms interfere with your daily activities?
  • What prescription medications are you currently taking?
  • What medical conditions have you been diagnosed with?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with a cataract in the past?
  • Do you spend a lot of time in the sun?
  • Have you ever had eye surgery in the past?

Cataracts May Also Be Known as:

  • Nuclear sclerotic cataract
  • Cortical cataract
  • Posterior subcapsular cataract

References

  1. Mayo Clinic. Cataracts. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353790
  2. National Eye Institute. Facts about diabetic eye disease. https://nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy
  3. MedicineNet. Facts about cataracts. https://www.medicinenet.com/cataracts/article.htm#what_is_a_cataract
  4. WebMD. Daily statin might raise your risk for cataracts. https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/news/20141205/daily-statin-might-raise-your-risk-for-cataracts-study#1
  5. Medpage Today. Estrogen replacement linked to cataract risk. https://www.medpagetoday.org/ophthalmology/generalophthalmology/18801?vpass=1
  6. All About Vision. Cataracts: 3 common types, causes, symptoms and treatments. https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/cataracts.htm
  7. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Cataract surgery. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-cataract-surgery

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