What Are Cataracts?

Cataracts are a medical condition where the crystalline lens in the eye becomes cloudy, yellowed or opaque.

What are some of the known causes of cataracts?

Cataracts can occur for a number of reasons including age (most common), eye trauma, smoking, alcohol consumption, genetics, UV exposure, diabetes, steroid use, or other drug use.

Most people eventually develop cataracts at some point in their lives.

What are common symptoms of cataracts?

Common early stage symptoms include blurred vision, faded colors, minor loss of night vision, halos around lights, and increase of glare.

In advanced stages, symptoms become more severe and include increased difficulty to see clearly at night or in bright daylight, generally cloudy vision, and yellowing of your vision.

What do I do if I am diagnosed with cataracts?

You should be sure to have your yearly exam with your optometrist.  Your optometrist will track the progress of your cataracts through regular visits.  Once your cataracts meet certain criteria, she will refer you to a local opthalmologist to have your crystalline lens removed and replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL).

Is there anything I can do to prevent cataracts?

Cataract prevention includes many behaviors that benefit your overall health.

Avoid smoking. Smoking increases the risk of developing diabetes, which in itself is another risk factor for cataracts!  Smokers are twice as likely to develop cataracts as non-smokers.

Avoid drinking alcohol in excess.

Manage your diabetes.  Diabetics are more likely to develop a certain type of cataract, but can mitigate their risk by controlling blood sugar levels.

Wear UV protective sunglasses.  UV light has been shown to cause oxidative stress in lens cells.

Eat a balanced diet that includes foods rich in Vitamin E, lutein, and zeaxanthin.  Some good sources of Vitamin E are almonds, sunflower seeds, and spinach.  Lutein and zeaxanthin can be found in green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, or Swiss chard.  Notably, spinach is high in all three nutrients.

Wear safety eyewear to help prevent eye trauma.

See your optometrist yearly, preferably Dr. Katie McElvaine at Springfield Family Vision!

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