A cataract is a progressive clouding of the lens of the eye. The lens is made of water and protein, arranged in a precise pattern. As we age, the protein in the lens clumps together to form a cataract. The cataract will continue to grow larger and distort vision until it is surgically removed.
Cataracts develop very slowly, and you may not notice the presence of a cataract for many years. In fact, most people find out about a developing cataract from their eye doctor. By the age of 40, 1 in 6 Americans have a developing cataract, and by age 70, half of all Americans are affected by the condition. Common symptoms of cataracts include:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Appearance of halos around bright lights
- Increased glare
- Difficulty driving at night
- Faded or yellowed appearance of colors
Although cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss worldwide, they are treatable with surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most common procedures performed in the United States today and boasts over a 95 percent success rate. Currently, 9 out of 10 patients regain vision between 20/20 and 20/40, so you can expect positive results when you schedule cataract removal.
The likelihood of developing a cataract as you age is quite high, but it is possible to avoid cataracts or delay their formation. If you do not yet have a developing cataract, there are a few steps that you can take to prevent cataracts:
Wear sunglasses — Exposure to UV rays from the sun can speed cataract formation, so wear sunglasses, even on cloudy days.
Apply sunscreen — Shield the delicate skin around your eyes from sun damage.
Don’t smoke — Cigarette smoke contains thousands of toxins that cause cellular damage.
Maintain a healthy weight — Studies show that obesity increases the risk for cataracts, so keep your weight within a healthy range for your height (Source: All About Vision).