With 24 million Americans suffering from cataracts, it is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States and the leading cause of blindness in the world.
What are cataracts?
Cataract is a medical condition in which the lens of the eye becomes progressively foggy and opaque, resulting in blurred vision. There are three types of cataracts:
- Subcapsular – occurs at the back of the lens. People with diabetes or those taking high doses of steroid medications have a greater risk of developing this.
- Nuclear – forms in the nucleus of the lens and is usually associated with aging.
- Cortical – starts in the periphery of the lens and spreads toward the center. It is characterized by white, wedge like opacities.
What causes this condition?
The lens of your eye is mostly made of water and protein. The protein is precisely arranged to let light pass through; but as we age some of those proteins may clump and begin to cloud your vision. Advanced age is the main cause of cataract formation but there are other factors that may encourage cataract development.
- Ultraviolet radiation
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid or statin medications
- Previous eye injury or surgery
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Significant alcohol consumption
- High myopia
- Family history
Is it preventable?
There isn’t a sure way to prevent cataracts but there are some preventative measures to reduce your likelihood of developing it. First and foremost, it’s important to protect your eyes from foreign objects as well as the sun’s rays. Wearing sunglasses is a simple way to protect your eyes. Some studies have also shown that an increased dietary intake of vitamin E, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids can also aid in prevention.
How is it treated?
This buildup of proteins is treated by surgical removal of the deteriorated lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. While this may sound daunting, the surgery usually only lasts about 20 minutes and is one of the most common surgeries in the United States.
If you are suffering from blurred vision or see a foggy spot on your eye, contact your eye doctor as soon as possible.