In normal eyes, the primary role of the lens is to focus light onto the eyes’ back portion where the nerves will recognize images that will then be transmitted to the brain.
However, when cataracts develop, they will cloud your lens and distort and obscure light coming into your eyes, leading to poor and blurry vision. In general, cataracts are a result of aging, with approximately 70% of individuals older than 75 years old having cataracts.
Additionally, many individuals with cataracts also struggle with other eye conditions like macular degeneration or glaucoma. In other cases, however, they’re caused by other factors.
Why and How Cataracts Form
Cataracts related to aging develop in two ways. First, protein clumps develop in the eyes’ lens, making them cloudy. This clouding significantly reduces how much light reaches your retina and become so invasive that it blurs your vision. The majority of cataracts related to aging form this way.
The second way cataracts develop is when the lens becomes dull, followed by the formation of a brownish or yellowish color in the lens. When this happens, you’ll eventually find it hard to recognize colors, notice finer details, or read.
Studies have likewise associated particular behaviors to cataract development, including smoking, overexposure to UV rays, and excessive alcohol intake. Being obese and having a history of cataracts in your family could likewise increase your risk of developing cataracts. Other risk factors include the following:
- Having undergone a surgical procedure for other eye conditions such as glaucoma
- Certain eye injuries
- Having underlying health issues like high blood pressure or diabetes
- Using steroids for a prolonged period of time
- Radiation exposure
- Acquiring cataracts upon birth
Can Cataracts Be Treated?
Yes, cataracts can be treated. In earlier cases, treatment for cataracts typically involves using magnifying lenses, installing brighter lights in the house, and stronger eyeglasses. However, these won’t treat the cataracts directly, but only improve vision. In the event that your cataracts begin impairing your vision, or worse, make you legally blind, you may be a good candidate for surgery. During cataract surgery, also called cataract extraction with IOL, the cataracts will be extracted from the affected eye and then replaced with intraocular lens or artificial lens.
When to Consider Cataract Surgery
In general, cataracts are just one of those things that naturally occur due to the aging process and one that happens over time. That being said, the usual recommendation of doctors is that individuals undergo surgery if cataracts are interfering with daily life due to vision loss, or if it’s getting in the way of you seeking treatment for another eye condition.
Cataract surgery has a high success rate and is considered safe. Individuals who have undergone the surgery are typically allowed by their doctor to go back to their daily tasks after several days of rest, with their vision continuing to improve in the coming weeks. You just need to follow all the aftercare instructions your doctor recommended for faster and safer recovery.