What Causes Cataracts?

woman-summer-hatCataracts can affect individuals of virtually any age; however, they most commonly develop as part of the natural aging process and typically affect those over 45. In fact, more than half of all Americans have either suffered from a cataract or had treatment for the condition by the time they are 80 years old. Cataracts are a progressive eye condition that can be generally characterized by a gradual “clouding” of the eye’s natural lens. These changes can cause decreased or blurry vision which cannot be corrected by glasses, and other annoying visual problems such as glare from bright lights.

There are many theories as to why cataracts develop. They are usually caused by a change in the structure of proteins in the eye’s clear lens making the lens brown and more opaque. This is typically due to the aging process; however, some researchers suggest that risk factors such as excessive sun exposure, diabetes, smoking, certain types of medication, high blood pressure, obesity, eye injury, and others may be associated with the development of cataracts.

The clouding of the eye’s lens that results from cataracts usually worsens over time, leading to a significant decrease in one’s ability to see clearly. It’s important to note that untreated cataracts are the world’s number one cause of blindness in people over the age of 40. The good news is that regular eye exams can identify cataracts and treatment options are very successful in solving the problem in most people. Our surgeons at New Eyes offer the most advanced laser procedures and lens technology to remove cataracts and simultaneously obtain vision correction for common refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia.

View helpful educational videos about cataract surgery here.

While there is disagreement among the medical community as to whether cataracts can truly be prevented, some studies have suggested that there may be some things you can do to reduce your risk of developing them. It has been said that a diet rich in vitamin E, vitamin C, carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful. It has also been noted that wearing protective sunglasses designed to block all of the sun’s ultraviolet rays may also be a helpful preventive measure. That said, one of the best ways you can prevent cataracts from having a debilitating and devastating affect on your life is to undergo annual eye exams. These evaluations can catch cataracts early and allow for treatment designed to restore your vision.