When a cataract develops, the lens of the eye becomes clouded, and it is often related to age. Initially, a patient’s vision may not be impeded because it develops gradually, but if this individual’s quality of life is compromised in some way, the ophthalmologist will recommend an appropriate time for surgery.
What You Should Know
Because it is transparent, light travels easily through the human lens, which is 65% water and contains no blood. While new cells for the lens are made continuously throughout life, as we age, it tends to become dense, hard, and cloudy. When this occurs, the lens is unable to send an accurate picture to the retina, where it should be processed and sent to the brain via the optic nerve.
Reducing the Risk
While the exact cause of cataracts is unknown, many experts in the medical field feel that their patients will be able to reduce their risk of developing cataracts if they take the following steps:
- To detect cataracts and other visual problems before they become serious, be sure to schedule regular eye examinations.
- If you are a smoker, try to break the smoking habit to boost your general health.
- Since the sun’s ultraviolet rays may foster the development of cataracts, remember to wear sunglasses that will block UVB rays when you go outdoors.
- Take care of your general health and maintain a normal weight. A certain amount of exercise is also essential, and if you are overweight, make an effort to lose weight gradually by eating smaller portions.
Individuals at greater risk for developing cataracts include the following:
- Those with Type 1 or 2 diabetes; cataract development is closely related to hyperglycemia (having a high level of blood sugar).
- Those who have an autoimmune disease-including as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or systemic lupus-and others whose medical condition requires an extensive use of steroids.
- Those who are myopic, suffer a hard blow, puncture, or cut to the eye, or have had intraocular surgery.
“Cataract: Definition, Symptoms, and Treatment.” Kellogg Eye Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 July 2010. www.kellogg.umich.edu/patientcare/conditions/cataract.html.
“Cataracts: Prevention – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – MayoClinic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 July 2010. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cataracts/DS00050/DSECTION=prevention
“Cataracts – Risk Factors.” University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 July 2010. <http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/what_risk_factors_cataracts_000026