A cataract is defined as a loss of transparency or clouding of the lens in your eye. It can occur in both the eyes, but is not infectious in nature, i.e. it doesn’t spread from one eye to the other. Cataracts are mostly caused due to the ageing process and are found to be the most obvious cause behind the loss of vision in older people. They can also be caused due to injury to the eyes, sun exposure, radiation, eye surgery or a birth defect. Cataracts are believed to cause more vision problems globally than any other eye disease or condition.
Here are five facts you should know about cataracts:
1. What is the lens?
The transparent structure or clear part of the eye situated behind the iris (the colored part of the eye) is defined as the lens. Its function is to bend light rays so that they can form a clear image at the back of your eye, i.e. on the retina. Because the lens is elastic in nature, it can change shape and get thinner for remote objects and thicker to focus on nearby objects.
2. What causes cataracts?
While ageing is the most obvious reason behind the development of cataract, genetic disorders also put you at an increased risk of cataracts. Most cataracts occur when there is an injury, which changes the tissue that makes up your eye lens. Environmental factors like toxins, radiation, and ultraviolet rays are other causes behind this condition.
Moreover, some cataracts are present since birth and babies are sometimes born with it.
3. Risk Factors
Factors, which increase your risk of cataracts, are:
- Use of tobacco
- Previous eye surgery/injury/inflammation
- High blood pressure
- Family history of cataracts
- Long-term sunlight exposure
- Excessive drinking of alcohol
Common signs and symptoms of cataracts are:
- Blurred, clouded or dim vision
- Increased vision difficulty at night
- Poor vision in bright, intense lighting conditions
- Multiple images or doubling of vision in one eye
- Recurrent changes in eyeglasses
- Yellowing or fading of colors
5. Can cataracts be prevented?
Whereas there is no proven way to prevent cataracts, doctors believe that different strategies could be useful. These consist of:
- Following a healthy diet which includes plenty of vegetables and fruits
- Limited or no consumption of alcohol
- No smoking
- Keeping your weight in check
- Avoiding extreme exposure to sunlight or wearing UV-blocking sunglasses whenever you go out in the sun
People with a history of eye problems or other medical conditions that are responsible for increasing the risk of eye diseases should get eye checkups done regularly in order to prevent cataracts.