Understanding Cataracts

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 6-May-2014

understandingcataractsSMALLCataracts are a common eye condition affecting nearly 22 million Americans age 40 and over. Cataracts are often mistaken as a growth or film on the eye, but in reality they are the result of clouding on the focusing lens of the eye, which is located behind the pupil.

Cataracts occur when protein builds up on the lens of the eye. Mild clouding caused by the protein may not affect vision, but more serious clouding can affect one’s ability to perform normal daily tasks such as reading, working around the home, seeing street sights and driving at night.

Who gets cataracts?

Although cataracts are often related to aging, they can also affect young people. There are three primary causes of cataracts other than age. These include:

Congenital cataracts — Developmental or congenital cataracts can develop even in infants or children. This type of cataract is typically associated with genetics or associated with birth defects, though in some rare cases, there is no clear cause of the cataracts.

Cataracts from disease or medication —In some cases, cataracts may be caused by disease, such as diabetes, or a previous eye surgery. Excessive use of steroid medications to treat other medical conditions may also lead to the development of cataracts.

Traumatic cataracts —A traumatic injury to the eye may also cause cataracts to develop. In some cases, these cataracts will develop soon after the injury, while in other cases they may take months or even years to develop.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

As cataracts develop, they can affect your ability to see in several ways. Common symptoms of cataracts include:

• Difficulty seeing street signs, curbs and freeway exits
• Difficulty seeing traffic lights, or seeing a halo or glare around lights
• Difficulty focusing while watching TV or movies
• Difficulty seeing the faces clearly
• Difficulty writing and reading
• Difficulty playing games or sports
• Difficulty navigating around the house with normal daily activities

Click here to view a cataract simulator to see how cataracts might affect your vision.

How are cataracts treated?

Cataracts cannot be removed, nor can the progression of cataracts be arrested or reversed. Once cataracts begin to develop, there is no way to make the lens clear again. In order to restore vision that has been lost due to cataracts, the clouded lens must be removed and replaced with an artificial lens implant.

Key-Whitman offers patients several cataract treatment options for lens replacement other than the standard monofocal lens, which corrects vision at a single distance. Multifocal lenses and accommodative lenses may provide a wider range of vision for near, far or intermediate following surgery.

Though only your eye doctor can diagnose cataracts, you may notice symptoms of cataracts, including difficulty seeing, blurred vision, or seeing a halo or glare around lights. If you have experienced a change in your vision or noticed that you have difficulty completing simple daily tasks, contact Key-Whitman today for a comprehensive eye exam.

Categories: Cataracts
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