What Are Cataracts and How Do You Prevent Their Development?

More than 24 million Americans are affected by cataracts. And fifty percent of Americans over the age of 75 are affected by cataracts. 

Clearly, cataracts are something that we all should be concerned about. But even though so many people are affected by this disorder, very few seem to know what they actually are or how to prevent them.

Luckily, we’ve got you covered. So continue reading and we’ll walk you through what are cataracts and how to prevent them. 

What Are Cataracts

When you experience a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye, that’s a cataract. If you’re someone who’s affected by cataracts, then it would seem as if you are looking through a cloudy lens or window that’s been fogged up. When you’re vision is clouded, you tend to have trouble with reading, seeing the expression on another person’s face, and driving a car (especially when it’s dark out). 

Thankfully, a cataract doesn’t develop overnight. They often take a long time to fully develop and won’t disturb your eyesight early on. However, as time goes on, cataracts will start to inhibit your vision. 

Causes of Cataracts

Cataracts typically develop when injury or aging causes the tissue that makes up the lens of your eye to change. People who have inherited genetic disorders that lead to other health issues may be at increased risk of cataracts. 

A cataract can also be caused by medical conditions such as diabetes, past eye operations, or other eye conditions. People who use steroid medications over long periods of time are also at risk of developing cataracts. 

How Does a Cataract Form?

Cataracts form in the lens of the eye. This lens is positioned behind the iris of your eye. The lens focuses the light that comes into your eye and creates sharp and clear images on your retina. 

The retina is the membrane in your eye that is sensitive to light and functions much like the film in a camera. As you get older, your eyes’ lenses become less transparent and less flexible. They also become thicker. 

Various medical conditions, especially ones related to age, can lead to tissues within the lens to weaken and clump together. This leads to clouding in different areas of the lens. 

As your cataract continues to grow more pronounced, the clouding will take up a bigger portion of your lens and also become denser. A cataract blocks and scatters the light as it enters through the lens. This prevents a clearly defined image from getting to the retina. 

Because of this, your vision will seem to be blurred. 

Cataracts usually form in both eyes. But they don’t develop evenly. 

A cataract in one eye might be more intense than in the other eye. This could lead to a difference in vision quality between your eyes. 

How to Prevent Cataracts

There is no sure-fire way to prevent yourself from developing cataracts. However, there are some practices you can adopt in order to lower your risk levels. 

First off, you should undergo eye exams regularly. An eye doctor can help detect cataracts and other eye problems at very early stages. Check with your eye doctor about how often you should be going in for an exam.  

Of course, you should also know how to choose the right eye doctor.

Also, if you needed another reason to quit smoking, here you go. Smoking can restrict blood vessels, create tumors, and lead to a variety of other conditions that can set you up to develop cataracts. 

You also want to keep your other health problems in check. Remember, the entire body is connected. And if you suffer from a disease like diabetes, you can end up greatly increasing your chances of developing cataracts. 

Because of this, it’s important that you opt for a healthy diet that’s full of plenty of vegetables and fruits. Adding in a variety of colorful veggies and fruits to your diet will make sure that you’re getting all of the nutrients and vitamins that your body needs.

Vegetables and fruits contain a variety of antioxidants, which help to promote proper eye health. 

It’s also a good idea to wear sunglasses. UV light that emanates from the sun can lead to the development of cataracts. Make sure that you wear sunglasses that block out UVB rays whenever you’re outdoors. 

You should also reduce your use of alcohol. Alcohol has been linked to a number of health problems throughout the body. 

Treatment

If your prescription glasses aren’t cutting it, then the only other solution to your cataracts is surgery. Consult with your eye doctor in order to see if eye surgery is a good option for you.

Most doctors will recommend surgery if the cataracts are starting to interfere with your everyday life. Thankfully, cataracts don’t actually harm the eye. So you usually don’t need to rush into surgery. 

If you delay the surgery, your recovery won’t be affected if you get the operation later. Make sure that you go over all of the risks and befits of surgery with your doctor. 

The Importance of Knowing About Cataracts

Hopefully, after reading the above article, you now know the answer to the question, “what are cataracts?” And by living a healthy lifestyle, you can better prevent cataracts from ever developing.

Are you interested in reading other helpful articles like this one? If so, check out the rest of our blog today for more!

 



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