What You Need to Know About Cataracts

The lenses of your eyes are normally perfectly clear, permitting the efficient collection and focusing of light. When you develop cataracts, the lens becomes increasingly cloudy, making images blurry and interfering with the normal function of your eyes. 

As many as 70% of people develop cataracts by the age of 80. Left untreated, you could suffer extreme vision impairment and blindness. But since cataracts are very common, treatments and cataract surgery handle the disease through all its stages. 

The optometric physicians at Accent Vision Specialists in Santa Fe, New Mexico, provide treatment for early stage cataracts, as well as cataract surgery co-management when your cataracts become dense enough to seriously impair your vision. 

The causes of cataracts

Age-related changes are the predominant reason why cataracts develop. The tissue in the lenses of your eye becomes less flexible, thicker, and loses transparency as you age. 

This inner tissue starts to break down and clump into opaque clouds that increasingly interfere with light collection, the same way that smudges on eyeglasses or windows prevent clear viewing. 

Cataracts can also stem from eye injuries, eye conditions, diseases like diabetes, or as a side effect of medication, such as long-term steroid use. In some cases, cataracts result from genetic anomalies and may even be present at birth. 

Cataracts usually affect both eyes but not at the same rate, so it’s possible that you’ll develop different levels of vision as the cataracts advance. 

Types of cataracts

There are three types of cataracts determined by where in the eye they develop. Nuclear cataracts affect the center of the lens. Cortical cataracts develop on the outer edges of the lens, and posterior subcapsular cataracts start at the rear of the lens.

Risk factors

Besides aging and other potential causes listed above, your risk for cataract development climbs if you experience one or more of these factors: 

Unprotected and extensive exposure to sunlight can also put you at higher risk for developing cataracts.

Can cataracts be prevented?

There’s no conclusive evidence that cataracts can effectively be prevented, though it’s generally agreed that eliminating risk factors promotes health benefits that support continued eye health.

Consider these strategies to reduce your risk of cataracts: 

Perhaps the most important prevention step is regular eye exams. Contact our office to schedule your eye exam and ensure you get the right treatment at the right time for your cataracts. 

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