A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye. This condition is extremely common, affecting more than half of all Americans age 65 and over and may be corrected through surgery. Cataracts occur when there is a buildup of protein in the lens that makes it cloudy. This buildup prevents light from passing through the lens, causing some loss of vision. It is not known what causes the buildup of protein responsible for clouding the lens.
Some risk factors for Cataracts include:
- cigarette smoking
- medications such as corticosteroids
- eye injuries
- sun exposure
- heavy alcohol consumption
- and age over 65 years.
Cataracts often form slowly and cause few symptoms. When symptoms are present, they can include:
- a painless blurring of vision;
- light sensitivity
- poor night vision
- double vision in one eye
- needing a brighter light to read
- colors looking faded or yellow
Types of Cataracts
- Age-Related Cataracts, as the name suggests, develops as a result of aging and is the most common form of Cataracts. Seventy percent of individuals over 75 years of age have Age-Related Cataracts.
- Congenital Cataracts are sometimes found in babies as a result of an infection they had before prior to birth. Congenital Cataracts can also develop in young children.
Some Cataracts may develop as a result of other diseases, like diabetes, or long-term exposure to toxic substances, certain medications (such as corticosteroids or diuretics), ultraviolet light, and radiation.