Cataracts 101

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye. Just like a camera with a smudged lens, if the eye’s lens is cloudy, the quality of vision will be poor.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

A person with a cataract may notice that their vision has become blurred or duller. They may have trouble reading or identifying colors, in particular blues and purples. Night vision may be compromised and light-sensitive; for example, headlights may seem too bright or have streaks radiating from them.

Who is at risk?

Although most cataracts occur in older people due simply to aging, cataracts also can be caused by surgery, steroid use, exposure to radiation or an eye injury. Some diseases such as diabetes can contribute to your chance of developing cataracts earlier.

Can I reduce my risk?

You may be able to reduce your risk of a cataract. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid UV exposure. Wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses or regular clear glasses with a UV coating.
  • Get good nutrition—in particular, green, leafy vegetables, fruit and other foods with antioxidants.
  • Receive regular, preventive eye care from an optometrist or ophthalmologist. A typical eye exam is painless. Your eye doctor will track your vision health over time and answer your questions.

How are cataracts treated?

Nonsurgical treatments aim to improve vision as much as possible. These include altering glasses prescription and adding a tint to cut glare. Reading in good light and choosing books with a larger font are other steps. Surgery may be recommended once the symptoms have progressed to a point that it interferes with your daily activities. In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear artificial lens called an intraocular lens.

The PacMed Optometry team can assess your eye health, and our Ophthalmology department offers cataract surgery.