Cataracts: Causes, Prevention, Treatment

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Our sight is our most valued sense, enabling us to enjoy the beauty in life. But often as we age, many of us suffer from cataracts—a cloudiness that develops in the normally clear lens of the eye. For those who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is like looking through a foggy window.

Typically, cataracts develop as normal aging. Heredity plays a part in the development of cataracts, just as it determines when hair begins to turn gray. A serious injury can cause a traumatic cataract to develop. Besides injuries, other factors can contribute to earlier than normal cataract development, such as exposure to UV rays, harmful chemicals or radiation; use of some medications; disease or infection prior to birth. It is even possible to have congenital or juvenile cataracts.

Signs and symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Clouded, blurred or dim vision.
  • Increasing difficulty with vision at night.
  • Sensitivity to light and glare.
  • Seeing "halos" around lights.
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription.
  • Fading or yellowing of colors.
  • Double vision in a single eye.

Today, new surgical technologies and anesthesia allow cataract surgery on a low stress, outpatient basis, allowing you to return home shortly after the procedure. Modern microsurgical techniques also allow you to enjoy good, clear vision after cataract removal. In fact, many patients see as well if not better than ever before.

Maintaining Good Eye Health

  1. Eat for good vision: Nutrients may help ward off age-related vision problems.
  2. Quit smoking: Smoking makes you more likely to get cataracts, optic nerve damage and macular degeneration.
  3. Wear sunglasses: The right kind of sunglasses will protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  4. Use safety eyeware: Protect your eyes while working with hazardous or airborne materials, or playing sports like hockey, racquet ball and lacrosse.
  5. Look away from the computer: Rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Take a 15 minute break every two hours.
  6. Visit your eye doctor regularly: It helps you protect your eyesight and make sure you are seeing your best.
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