Cataracts are the clouding of the natural lens of the eyes. These lie behind the pupil and the iris. For people over the age of forty, cataracts are the main cause of blindness. As a matter of fact, according to PBA or Prevent Blindness America, around the world, there are more cases of cataract than there are diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and glaucoma combined.
Types of Cataract
- Cortical Cataract- These are characterized by wedge-like, white opaque spots that begin in the lens periphery and work their way in a spoke like fashion to the center. Cataracts such as these occur in the cortex of the lens which is the lens part surrounding the center nucleus.
- Nuclear Cataract- These form deeply in the lens nucleus which is the center zone. A cataract of this type is related to advanced age.
- Subcapsular Cataract- this is the cataract that occurs at the lens back. People taking steroid medications in high doses or those with diabetes have a high risk of developing cataracts of this type.
Causes of Cataracts
For a clear vision, the lenses within the eye work somewhat like the lens of a camera. These adjust the focus of the eyes and let you clearly see things far away or up close. Mostly, protein and water make up the lens of the eyes. There is a precise method in which protein is arranged that lets the light pass through it and keeps the lenses clear. As aging occurs, some of the protein might start clumping together and begin clouding areas of the lenses. These are cataracts. In time, more of the lens may get clouded as it grows larger. This makes it harder to see. When cataracts form, no one knows for sure why the lenses of the eyes change and cataracts form. Worldwide studies have defined some factors associated with the development of cataracts and are associated with their development. Aside from the advancing of age, risk factors for cataracts include smoking, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and UV radiation from the sun.
Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts
Cataracts begin being tiny with hardly any effect on your eyesight. As a matter of fact all you might notice at first is a bit of a blur in your vision, like you are viewing an impressionist painting or it may seem as if you are looking through a piece of glass which is cloudy.
Cataracts may make light from a lamp or the sun seem too glaring or bright. You might also notice that the oncoming headlights of others cars seem to be more glary than before. Colors may also seem duller compared to the way they used.
The cataract type you have will determine the experienced symptoms that occur and the rapidity in which they happen. For instance, there can be a temporary improvement in your near vision when a nuclear cataract develops, also known as 2nd sight. The bad news is that vision that improves tends to be temporary and as the cataract gets worse, these will disappear. In comparison, subcapsular cataracts may produce no symptoms until this is developed well. If you suspect that you may be developing a cataract, find out for sure by seeing an eye doctor.