What are cataracts?
A cataract affects the lens of the eye by clouding it and affecting vision. The lens of the eye is made mostly of water and protein. The protein keeps the lens clear so that light can pass through it. The aging process can cause the protein to clump together and cloud the lens. As the cataract grows, the lens gets cloudier.
Cataracts are usually age related; by age 70 most Americans have either had a cataract or had cataract surgery. Cataracts can occur in one or both eyes but they do not spread from eye to eye.
Are there other types of cataracts?
The most common cataracts develop from aging. Other types of cataracts include:
- Secondary cataract: Sometimes cataracts form following surgery for other eye problems. They can also develop in people with other health issues, such as diabetes.
- Traumatic cataract: Cataracts can form after an eye injury.
- Congenital cataract: Babies can sometimes be born with cataracts or they can develop in childhood.
- Radiation cataract: Exposure to some types of radiation can cause cataracts.
- Steroid induced cataract: chronic use steroid medications for auto-immune conditions may also lead to cataract formation
- Cloudy vision
- Colors look faded
- Glare from lights, sun or headlights
- Trouble with night vision
- Multiple images in the eye
- Frequent change of glasses or contact lens prescription
- If you have any of these symptoms, schedule a check up with your ophthalmologist
How are cataracts diagnosed?
Cataracts are detected and diagnosed by your ophthalmologist with an eye exam that includes:
- Eye chart test that measures your distance vision
- Dilated eye exam that allows your ophthalmologist to examine the retina and optic nerve for problems
- Tonometry measures the pressure inside the eye.