What are cataracts?
A cataract is the gradual clouding of the natural crystalline lens within the eye. When we are born, this natural lens is clear and provides us with crisp, sharp vision. As we age, our natural lens becomes more cloudy and foggy due to alterations in the protein structure in the lens. Initially, these changes do not require any treatment and can be safely observed with routine eye exams with your eyecare professional. Over time, however, the cataract grows and causes blurry vision that affects our normal daily activities. At this point, cataract surgery to exchange the clouded lens with a new, clear, artificial lens is recommended.
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. In the U.S. alone, over 22 million people over the age of 40 are affected by cataracts. As the population ages, this number will continue to grow. At Central Valley Eye, we are dedicated to ensuring this reversible cause of blindness is treated by the best surgeons and the newest technologies in cataract surgery.
What are the risk factors for developing cataracts?
- Excessive sun exposure
- Exposure to radiation from cancer treatments
Very rarely, cataracts can develop following eye injury or chronic steroid use, or be related to certain medical conditions. In these rare cases, the cataract can develop quite rapidly, over days or months, or they may be present from birth.
What Are The Symptoms of Cataracts?
- Blurred vision
- Increased glare
- Poor night vision
- Decreased color vibrancy
- Frequently changing eyeglass prescription
What Happens if Cataracts Are Left Untreated?
Cataract surgery typically is not recommended until a patient is symptomatic and having issues with their vision. However earlier cataract surgery may be beneficial in patients who have a large prescription difference between their two eyes (anisometropia), those with a low corneal endothelial cell count (i.e. Fuchs corneal dystrophy), and those with primary angle closure or angle closure glaucoma.