Age Is Just A Number
Age-related cataracts are by far the most common form of the disease, most prevalent in people 40 and older. Roughly half of all Americans will have the condition by age 75. That said, several factors can cause cataracts to affect the younger generation as well.
From the eye to the brain
The eye uses a lens, like a camera, to focus light on the back of the eye. Nerves in the back of the eye send that picture to the brain for processing. Cataracts cause the lens to become cloudy, resulting in blurry images being sent to the brain instead. Foggy sight can make everyday activities like reading, recognizing faces, or driving a car more challenging.
Don’t tell me about trauma
There are many reasons why an individual can develop cataracts at a younger age. The most common cause of a unilateral cataract is due to trauma, often from a piercing or blunt injury. Trauma can also come from ultraviolet exposure or other forms of radiation. The disease can also appear as the result of electric shock or chemical damage to the eye.
Other cataract causers
In addition to trauma, having hypertension or diabetes can also play a role in cataract formation. Similarly, being obese or eating a diet lacking antioxidants and vitamins lower the eye’s ability to combat the disease. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are also linked to the ailment. Furthermore, the use of steroids or a previous eye surgery have a tendency to disrupt the lens.
Age truly doesn’t matter
The disease doesn’t stop there. Although quite rare, congenital cataracts are when the lens of the eye is cloudy at birth. In most cases, no cause is found for the appearance of the condition. That said, parents who had congenital cataracts can pass the condition on to children. Congenital cataracts can also happen alongside other congenital disabilities such as Down syndrome. Babies with cataracts will often have grey pupils and be unable to notice objects.
When you know, you know
Cataracts can affect vision in a number of ways. Colors may appear faded and carry a yellow, brown, or grayish hue. Patients with discoloration or blurriness may need additional light to read or make out objects. Because cataracts intensify glare, driving at night can become increasingly difficult as the condition worsens. Sometimes, double vision can occur in one or both eyes as the lens loses functionality.
Cataracts could be life-changing
If cataracts aren’t influencing vision yet, an eye doctor may suggest lifestyle changes to slow the growth rate. For instance, choosing healthy options over fried foods can provide the eye with beneficial vitamins and minerals. Patients with diabetes can keep blood sugar in a safe range and prevent damage to several parts of the body. When out and about, wearing sunglasses with UV protection reduces the amount of radiation reaching the eye.
There’s only one solution
While these solutions can keep an individual seeing better for longer, no lifestyle change will remove cataracts. At this time, the only treatment option to restore lost sight from cataracts is through surgery. The procedure is fast and very safe for removing the cloudy lens. To complete the process, an ophthalmologist places a new artificial lens where the cataract once was. Thanks to modern technology, these artificial lenses may even reduce dependence on glasses or contacts.