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Cataracts: Symptoms, Risks and Prevention

Cataracts can occur when your eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy, leading to distorted or impaired vision. Patients who have had cataracts compare the sensation to looking through a dirty window and the symptoms can make activities like driving and reading difficult. This condition develops over time and while it may be hard to notice at first, it can dramatically interfere with your vision. It is quite common as you age, more than half of Americans over the age of 80 suffer from cataracts.

Symptoms:

When cataracts are mild you may not notice any changes to your vision but as they progress the symptoms will eventually cause vision impairment. 

Common indicators include: 

  • Cloudy vision
  • Poor vision at night 
  • Lights appear brighter than normal
  • Colors look faded
  • Halos appear around lights
  • Double vision
  • Frequent glasses prescription changes 

A major sign to look out for is your eye’s appearance. Cataracts can cause your eyes to cloud over. The photo below shows the left eye with cataracts compared to a healthy eye on the right. While the symptoms listed don’t always indicate the presence of cataracts, it is important to watch out for them and speak with a professional if you are concerned.

Cataracts

 

Risk Factors:

The risk for developing cataracts increases with age. Around 40, the proteins in your eyes begin to break down and cause the lens to become cloudy. Other factors that increase your risk for cataracts include

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking 
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol 
  • Family history of cataracts 
  • Past eye problems or eye surgery 
  • Too much sun exposure
  • Use of steroids

If you are concerned about your risk for developing cataracts speak with your doctor, they may be able to help assess your chance of getting cataracts and mitigate your risk of developing them.

Prevention:

It is important to take care of your vision and protect your eyes not only to prevent cataracts but overall eye health. You can protect yourself by wearing hats and sunglasses outside to shade your eyes from damage. Additionally, it is important to eat well by incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables into your diet. Choices like dark leafy greens such as spinach or kale are great options to get the important nutrients you need. The antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables help maintain your eye health and will provide you with a wide range of other health benefits. 

It is crucial to have regular appointments with an eye doctor. Regular doctor visits can help catch eye problems in their earliest stage and make mitigation easier and more successful.

Cataracts can cause major problems in your vision and make everyday tasks like reading difficult and frustrating. It is important to properly assess your personal risk for developing this condition and consult a professional for help early on if you are concerned. Following these steps can help ensure healthy eyes for years to come.

 

For more information on cataracts check out these resources:

Cataracts-National Eye Institute

What are cataracts?

Cataracts

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