A cataract is the clouding of your normally clear lens inside of your eye due to aging. It typically develops slowly over time and mostly affects people age 55 and over.
A clear lens allows light to focus onto the retina to produce a clear image. When clouding occurs due to a cataract, you will start experiencing the following symptoms:
- Blurry or hazy vision
- Trouble seeing at night
- Seeing colors as faded
- Increased sensitivity to glare from lights, particularly when driving at night
- Halos surrounding lights
- Needing more light to read in dark conditions
- Double vision in the affected eye
- Need for frequent changes in prescription glasses
Seeing through cloudy lenses is like seeing through a frosty or fogged-up window.
During your eye exam, our optometrist will help you determine what kind of cataract you have and will explain how it’s affecting your vision:
- Nuclear cataract affects and forms in the center of the lens. The nucleus tends to darken, changing from clear to yellow and eventually brown. This is the most common type of cataract associated with aging
- Cortical cataract affects the edges surrounding the nucleus of your lens. The cataract looks like a wedge or a spoke.
- Posterior capsular cataract affects the back outer layer of the lens. This type often develops more rapidly and interferes with your reading vision, reduces your vision in bright light, and causes glare or halos around lights at night.
- Congenital cataract is a cataract that people are born with or that was developed during childhood due to genetics, trauma or medical conditions such as intrauterine infection, myotonic dystrophy, galactosemia, neurofibromatosis type 2 or rubella… etc.
There is currently no cure for cataracts. If a cataract is negatively impacting your quality of life, our optometrist may suggest cataract surgery to remove the cataract by replacing the lens inside your eyes. Similar to any age-related diseases, the best way to avoid or delay cataracts is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Avoid and stop smoking
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays
- Maintain healthy weight to avoid obesity
- Eat fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants, Vitamin A, C, and carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin. Good sources include sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, kale and other green, leafy vegetables (consider supplementation as needed)
- Keep diabetes, cholesterol and other medical conditions in check
- Reduce alcohol consumption
For additional information, please visit one of the following resources and references:
- American Academy of Opthalmology, “What Are Cataracts?“
- All About Vision, “Cataracts: 3 common types, causes, symptoms and treatments“
- National Eye Institute, “At a glance: Cataracts“
- MedicineNet, “Cataracts”
- Review of Optometry, Oct 2019, Wellness Essentials for Clinical Practice, see “The Nuts and Bolts of Nutrients” pg 8, “The Virtues of Vitamin C” pg 14, “Carotenoids: Front to Back Ocular Protection” pg 21, “Put Wellness on the Menu” pg 34