Cataracts cause a clouding effect in your vision but fortunately, they can often be corrected with surgery (click here for expanded information on what cataracts are, available treatments, and prevention tips). So, what actually causes cataracts and how can you detect them?
First, the bad news. Cataracts are mostly caused by age and there really isn’t anything any of us can do about that. Time marches on, proteins develop in the eye’s lens, and the cloudiness develops. According to the National Institutes of Health, by age 80, more than half of all Americans will either have a cataract or will have had surgery to remove them.
Sometimes, cataracts are caused by things that aren’t necessarily within our control, like a traumatic eye injury, diseases like diabetes and glaucoma, or in rare cases, you’re born with them or they develop in childhood because they’re congenital. However, cataracts can also be caused by things within our control such as smoking, alcohol consumption, steroid use, and prolonged exposure to sunlight without wearing sunglasses.
So the good news is, by living a healthy lifestyle, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and taking good care of ourselves, we can extend the health of our eyes. Part of taking good care of ourselves is making sure to get yearly eye exams, specifically a comprehensive eye exam, which may include dilation and/or Optomap retinal imaging. This type of exam allows the eye care professional to look deep into the inside of your eye. In a dilated exam, drops are placed in each eye which dilates the pupil (the black dot in the center of the eye), making it larger to allow more light in. A large magnifying lens is then used to see into the back of the eye. Optomap retinal imaging takes a 200-degree image of the back of the eye and often does not require dilation. Both of these tests are important, as they can detect early stages of disease, often before any other warning signs appear.
If you suspect you have cataracts in one or both eyes, make an appointment at All About Eyes. Dr. Dave or Dr. Cheryl will conduct a comprehensive eye exam and discuss cataracts with you in more detail. Give us a call at 609-653-9933 to set up an appointment today.