Although cataracts are a common issue that many adults over 40 must face, what many people may not realize is that they are also the leading cause of blindness worldwide. So as common as they may be, they are a serious matter that many people are unaware of, or know very little about. Here’s what you need to know.

Symptoms

According to Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), more than 2.5 million Canadians have cataracts and it is a leading cause of vision loss worldwide.

The word cataract is used to describe a condition when the eye’s lens, located behind the iris and pupil, becomes impaired by a cloudy or foggy layer. Initially, the early phase of this condition will appear as though your vision is slightly blurry or hazy. You may also begin to feel particularly sensitive to bright lights and glares.

There are three types of cataracts, and depending on which one you have, you may experience a variety of symptoms that occur over a different period of time.

Types of cataracts include:

Subcapsular – This occurs more frequently with people who are taking high dosages of steroid medication or who suffer from diabetes. This cataract specifically affects the back area of the lens.

Nuclear – These cataracts are more frequent in aging populations and affect the deep area of the nucleus on the lens.

Cortical – Occurring in the lens cortex, the periphery of the lens is where white wedge-like opacities begin to emerge and gradually begin to move towards the center.

Causes

As the lens within our eyes enable us to see objects both near and far, the protein that the lens consists of enables us to see those objects clearly. Cataracts form when that protein becomes clumped, which causes cloudiness to occur in our vision. This is particularly evident as we begin to age, though the exact reasons aren’t fully understood.

However, there have been a variety of factors that are proven to contribute to the occurrence of cataracts. Some of the main ones include diabetes, smoking, and obesity, along with numerous other factors.

Treatment and Prevention

If you or a loved one is suffering from the early onset of cataracts, visuals aids such as strong bifocals and magnification can help. But surgery is required for more severe stages, and has proven to be very successful at allowing patients to regain their vision back.

Some studies have shown that incorporating various sources of vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial for preventing cataracts from occurring. But an overall healthy diet and good nutrition, combined with wearing appropriate protective sunglasses to block out those UV rays are your best bet for keep your eyes good and clear.

Looking to prevent cataracts, or find treatment options if you have cataracts? Book an appointment with Laurier Optical Innes Eye Clinic today.

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