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Cataracts: What You Need to Know

Senior Woman's Eye
A cataract is a common condition that affects more than half the adults in the United States. Because cataracts are so common, people should know what cataracts are, what the warning signs are, and how to control the problem. This FAQ can teach patients the cause of cataracts so people can avoid the problem and get treatment if it's needed. 

What Are Cataracts?

A cataract is a cloudy spot in the vision. Often, cataracts occur in people who are older. Cataracts are diagnosed through a series of tests that help the ophthalmologist see the inside and outside of the eye. Ophthalmologists also diagnose cataracts by testing the patient's visual acuity. 

Can Cataracts Be Treated?

The only way to get rid of cataracts is with surgery. However, many people have such mild cataracts that they can live with the condition without sacrificing quality of life. For mild cases of cataracts, a strong eyeglasses prescription may be enough to help the person see properly. Some cases of cataracts are so mild that the person with the diagnosis can tell no difference. 

Are Cataracts Ever Found In Young People?

Occasionally, cataracts can be found in babies. Some babies are born with cataracts, and others will develop cataracts after being born. Sometimes older children develop cataracts as a result of an eye injury.
This condition can be diagnosed through a standard eye examination, other times pediatric cataracts are diagnosed as a result of the child's red reflex in a photograph. Children who regularly have one red eye in flash photography could be experiencing a problem like cataracts. As with older adults, babies with mild cases of cataracts may not need to have cataract surgery. 

What Causes Cataracts?

Cataracts can be caused by many things. People who smoke or drink a higher than normal amount of alcohol are at greater risk for cataracts. Some types of medications are also linked to cataracts. Other risk factors include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, eye injury, age, use of steroids, and previous eye surgeries.
Patients with light-colored eyes are more at risk than patients with dark colored eyes, but eyes of all colors are susceptible to this condition. Because there is not one single thing that causes cataracts, sometimes the origins of this condition can be difficult to determine. 

What Can You Do to Prevent Cataracts?

Because cataracts aren't caused by only one issue, people are encouraged to make a variety of healthy lifestyle choices. Eating a good diet, not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are all smart ways to keep your eyes healthy. Also, wear sunglasses outside during daylight hours. The best sunglasses are those that offer UVA and UVB protection. 
Visiting your eye doctor regularly is also a good way to stay on top of the problem. Although visiting the eye doctor cannot truly prevent cataracts, your eye doctor can identify cataracts in its early stages and may be able to help you reduce risk factors to prevent the condition from worsening.

What Are the Warning Signs of Cataracts?

People who suffer from cataracts may see everything with a yellowish tinge or may develop a sensitivity to light. Double vision and appearance of halos in the vision are also warning signs of cataracts. In very severe cases, the cataract is clearly visible through the pupil, which becomes cloudy in color. 

How Can You Find Out More About Cataracts?

If you need to find out more about cataracts, contact a reputable ophthalmologist in your area. At Carolina Cataract & Laser Center, P.A., our ophthalmologist has performed over 20,000 cataract surgeries, and has the expertise to answer your questions about cataracts. To find out more, contact us about this condition today.