How Does a Cataract Form?

A cataract is a clouding of the lens of your eye. When you have a cataract, it’s like looking out a fogged up window – you can still see but things are blurred. Clouded vision caused by cataracts makes it difficult to do normal activities like drive, pay bills or see the expression on someone’s face.

Most cataracts develop slowly and won’t affect your eyesight early on. This is why it’s important to see your eye specialist regularly so they can catch cataracts before you have symptoms. Even though there is no natural cure for cataracts, it’s possible that you can slow their progression using eye drops and eating a healthy diet.

What Causes Cataracts to Form in the Eye?

The lens of the eye is positioned behind the iris, or colored part of the eye. The lens is responsible for focusing light that passes into your eye, producing clear images on the retina. However, as you age, the lens becomes less flexible and thicker. The lens breaks down and clumps together, clouding small areas that eventually interfere with normal vision.

As the cataract continues to develop, it becomes denser and larger. It scatters and blocks the light as it passes through the lens, preventing a sharp clear image from reaching your retina. What you’ll notice is blurred vision. Cataracts usually develop in both eyes though not at the same time.

While most cataracts begin from natural age-related changes in the eye, some cataracts are aggressive and problematic. These cataracts are usually caused by:

  • Also known as diabetic snowflakes, these cataracts are fast-growing and develop when an enzyme converts too much glucose into sorbitol.
  • Injury to the eye can disrupt the lens fibers. Trauma-related cataracts are usually fastest growing.
  • If the lens is exposed to radiation, it can cause clouding in the eyes in just a few short years.

What Risk Factors Should You Be Aware Of?

In the United States alone, over 24 million people over the age of 40 have cataracts. By age 80, more than half of people have them. While anyone can get cataracts, the most common risk factors are:

  • Increasing age
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Eye surgery, trauma or inflammation
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight

Ways to Prevent Cataracts

Even though there is no proven way to prevent cataracts, doctors do believe in several strategies. At Empire Retina Consultants, we encourage our patients to eat a healthy diet, wear sunglasses year-round, quit smoking, manage their health conditions and see our eye specialist regularly.

By following the tips above, you can stay on top of your vision and ensure a more successful outcome if you are diagnosed with cataracts. To schedule an appointment with Empire Retina Consultants, contact our team today.