What Causes Cataracts And What Are The Early Signs?
One of the more memorable quotes from silver screen legend Bette Davis is “Old Age Isn’t for Sissies!” Unfortunately, the truth in that statement gets clearer with each passing year. Diet, exercise and advances in medicine are increasing longevity and adding to quality of life as we age, but, with time, comes the inevitability of physical changes. Most of them are not what we would choose, like bone density issues, hearing loss and changes in vision.
Vision loss or impairment due to the development of cataracts is an issue that affects millions of people all over the world as they move beyond middle age. In the United States, alone, more than a million people are diagnosed with cataracts each year. Worldwide, it is the leading cause of blindness, and, as people continue to live longer, the incidence of cataracts is expected to also grow.
What Causes Cataracts?
Despite the prevalence of cataracts no one really knows what the exact cause is. It is believed that the lens changing with age is the main reason for it to develop that chalky-opaque character that is often referred to as “cloudy”. There are factors, however, that are believed to contribute or hasten the process. These include:
- Diabetes – high levels of glucose in the lens causes swelling, reduces clarity and eventually leads to cataract formation
- Drugs – use of diuretics, corticosteroids, chlorpromazine and other phenothiazine-related medications are linked to cataracts
- Ultraviolet radiation – it’s not only the skin that suffers from too much exposure to the sun
- Smoking – that it may hasten cataracts is yet one more reason that smoking is harmful to your health
- Alcohol – there appears to be a relationship between heavier alcohol use and the onset of cataracts
There is also research that seems to suggest that there may be a correlation between cataracts and nutritional deficiencies, low levels of antioxidants in particular. Nutrients known to be eye-friendly, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc are believed to have the potential to reduce the risk of certain eye diseases.
What Are The Symptoms?
Cataracts and the resulting changes in vision often develop very slowly. Some of the things to watch for are:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Nearsightedness that develops after age 55 or 60
- Changes in color perception
- Increasing difficulties with driving at night
- Less tolerance for daytime glare
- Double vision in one particular eye
Even after prescription change, glasses fail to correct vision
Anything that threatens our vision can be frightening. Growing older comes with enough challenges without the added worry of losing our eyesight. Cataracts left untreated can lead to blindness, but cataract replacement is one of the most common and successful procedures performed in the U.S. So routine that it’s done on an outpatient basis, not only will you be home the same day but more than 95 percent of those who have this surgery report that they see better afterward.
If you have been diagnosed with cataracts or are having any vision related issues, Long Island Ophthalmic Concepts is ready to provide high-quality, comprehensive care in our three convenient Long Island office locations. For more information about how we can help with cataract issues or any other type of eye care, or if you have other questions or comments, please call the office most convenient to you — Bellmore, Huntington, Little Neck and Huntington. If you would like to schedule an appointment, simply click here to go to our online scheduler.