Dr. Morgan Huang MD is a top Ophthalmologist in Arcadia, CA. With a passion for the field and an unwavering commitment to their specialty, Dr. Morgan Huang MD is an expert in changing the lives of their patients for the better. Through their designated cause and expertise in the field, Dr. Morgan Huang MD is a prime example... more
A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens. Our clear aspirin sized lens is made mostly of water and protein. As we age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small area of our lens. This formation is the start of a cataract. Over time it would cloud more of the lens which makes it hard for us to see. This is much like the effect of looking through a smudged camera lens. The blurred image can either be at a distance or up close and can occur in either or both eyes; however it cannot spread from one eye to the other.
What Causes Cataracts?
The most commonly seen cataract is the nuclear cataract which is caused by the aging process and changes. Other risk factors for the development of cataracts include people who are diabetic, have excessive exposure to the sun or some types of radiation, eye injury and prolonged intake of steroids or cortisone medication for medical conditions such as lupus or severe arthritis. In some cases babies are born with cataracts or can develop during their childhood.
How Can I Tell When I Have Cataracts?
In the early stages, you may have very minimal impaired vision, so only your ophthalmologist can tell. Your first symptom can be slight hazy vision only in bright light, but at some point you might start noticing other changes as listed below.
Common signs and symptoms
- Cloudy or blurry distance vision, but in some cases reading vision may temporarily be improved. (Print may be difficult to read or appear faded, lacking contrast. Frequent prescription changes in your eye glasses or contact lens, edges of stairs, or curbs are difficult to detect)
- Poor night vision. (Streaks or ray of light coming from headlights and stop lights at night)
- Double vision or several images in one eye. (This symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.)
- Difficulty telling the difference between colors. For example, blue may appear as a shade of green, white as gray or beige, and yellow as white.
- Glare. Sunlight, headlights, and lamps all may appear too bright.
What Treatments Are Available?
To date, there is no medication that can slow down the growth of or clear the clouded lens. In the early stages of cataracts, most people can get by with improving their vision with new glasses, contacts, anti-glare sunglasses, or a magnifying glass; however as the cataracts gets worse over time, surgery is the only effective treatment. If left untreated, the cataract will become so clouded that it would be very difficult to see any details. In cataract surgery, the physician would remove the clouded damaged lens and replace it with a clear plastic intraocular lens (IOL). In the past, before the development of IOL implants, physicians would wait until the cataract is advanced and dense, but today with advanced surgical techniques and equipment, physicians tend to suggest cataract surgery at an earlier stage in development.
By having your vision tested regularly, you and your eye care professional can discuss if and when you might need treatment.
There is currently no proven method to prevent cataracts that develop as a result of getting older, but you can wear sunglasses or wear hats with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight to delay the chances of getting cataracts. Some researchers also identified antioxidants such as vitamins C and E to be linked to reducing and slowing the progression of developing cataracts.