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Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over 40. Over 22 million Americans over the age of 40 are affected by cataracts; vision loss due to cataracts is the leading cause of blindness in the world. Despite this, many people don’t know much about the condition. The cataract eye care professionals at the Berkeley Eye Center of Houston would like to take this opportunity to share some information about this common and very serious eye condition.
1. What is a Cataract?
Cataracts are the clouding of the natural lens inside the eye. The lens is the clear part of the eye that helps to focus light onto the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. In a normal eye, light passes through the transparent lens and is focused on the retina to transmit sharp, clear images to the brain. Cataracts occur when the tissues within the lens to break down and clump together, clouding the lens and scattering or preventing the light from reaching the retina, which can have a serious impact on your vision.
2. Types of Cataracts
There are three types of age-related cataracts. As a person ages, they can develop any one of these types of cataracts or a combination of the three types.
Other types of cataracts include: secondary cataracts (cataracts resulting from other health problems and can form after eye surgery), traumatic cataracts (caused by an eye injury), congenital cataracts (some babies – usually premature at birth, are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood) and radiation cataracts (caused by exposure to radiation.)
3. Common Cataract Symptoms
Common symptoms of cataracts include:
These symptoms can be early indicators of a number of vision problems. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to see an eye care professional.
4. Risk Factors for Cataracts
Factors that accelerate the development of cataracts include:
5. Detecting Cataracts
The best way to detect cataracts is through regularly scheduled comprehensive eye exams. Your eye doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and conduct several tests, including:
6. Treatment Options for Cataracts
When cataracts first appear, you may be able to improve your vision with new glasses or contacts. Wearing protective eyewear and using brighter lights may help alleviate the symptoms. If the problem gets worse, you may want to consider surgery.
Cataract surgery is done on an outpatient basis. It involves removing the damaged lens and replacing it with an artificial one, called an intraocular lens. Inserted in the same place as a natural lens, it remains a permanent part of the eye. The procedure itself takes less than an hour and there’s no need for a hospital stay.
Cataract removal is one of the safest and most effective types of surgery. In a majority of cases, people who have under gone this procedure report that they have better vision afterward. However, as with all surgical procedures, there are risks. Some of these risks include bleeding and infections, and the possibility of retinal detachment, a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.
7. Are Cataracts Preventable?
Doctors don’t know the exact causes of cataracts, so there may be no way to prevent them. However, there have been a number of studies that suggest certain nutrients and nutritional supplements may reduce the risk of cataracts. These include foods rich in vitamin E (such as sunflower seeds, almonds and spinach), carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin (found in spinach, kale and other green, leafy vegetables), vitamin C (Oranges, red peppers, strawberries, broccoli and other fruits and vegetables) and omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish such as halibut, salmon, sardines, trout and tuna).
Eye doctors also recommend that you don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol and don’t smoke. Wearing protective sunglasses while outdoors may also help prevent the formation of cataracts.
For More Information, Contact the Berkeley Eye Center of Houston
For more information about cataracts and other vision health issues, please contact an eye care professional at the Berkeley Eye Center of Houston. We’ve been protecting the eyesight of Houstonians for over half a century. If you have noticed changes in your vision, or it’s been a while since you last had your eyes checked, contact the Berkeley Eye Center of Houston to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.
Ralph G. Berkeley, M.D., is included in the prestigious list of top surgeons nationwide in refractive and cataract surgery. Dr. Berkeley has been honored by his peers as one of the “Best Doctors in America.” Board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology since 1961, Dr. Berkeley is recognized as a pioneer in refractive surgery. He began performing refractive surgery in 1979 and has performed many thousands of procedures.
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