Cataracts create vision problems as your eye lenses harden with age. There are other underlying factors that can put you at higher risk. Here is everything you need to know about cataracts, the vision problems they can cause and the treatments available:
What are Cataracts?
Your eyes contain lenses much like a camera and as you age these lenses become harder. This can result in a cloudiness that will block light from reaching your retina. When this happens it will interfere with your vision and will make it seem like you are looking at a smudged mirror or through a dirty window.
Symptoms of Cataracts
Cataracts are usually a slow and gradual process, and they can take years to appear. The progression is painless and your eye doctor can perform tests to diagnose the onset of cataracts. In rare cases some people are actually born with cataracts or they are caused due to an injury. Symptoms that you have cataracts can include:
- Light sensitivity
- Seeing halos or glare around light sources
- Difficulty making out detail
- Poor central vision
- Not being able to distinguish colours
- Poor night vision
- Double vision
What are the risk factors for getting cataracts?
Age plays a major role in the development of cataracts however other factors are at play as well including:
- A history of cataracts in your family
- Health issues such as diabetes
- Being a smoker
- Being a drinker (alcohol)
- Sun exposure
- Certain medications
- Eye injuries
Do cataracts affect everyone in the same way?
No. If you are farsighted you may find your near vision improves and you may not require your reading glasses. If you are nearsighted (myopic) your distance vision will become worse. As well, in some cases cataracts affect distance vision and in others they affect reading vision.
Your vision problems can often be corrected with glasses during the early stages of cataracts. Corrective lenses will not assist with the lack of sharpness to your vision. However if the cataracts worsen it is usually necessary to undergo cataract surgery. This is a common and safe procedure in which your ophthalmologist removes the cataract and a synthetic intraocular lens (IOL) is inserted. This will replace the part of your eye that assists with focus. There are both monovision IOLs which focus on a preset distance or multifocal IOLs which can focus on varied distances.
That is practically all you need to know about cataracts.