A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Normally, the lens is transparent and acts as the lens of a camera, focusing light on the retina.
Up to about age 45, the shape of the lens can change which permits the lens to focus on an object. As a person ages, the proteins in the lens begin to discompose and consequently, the lens becomes cloudy, and what the eye sees looks fuzzy. This condition is known as cataracts.
Cataracts develop slowly and painlessly. The vision from the affected eye also slowly worsens. Consequently:
- A slight opacity of the lens often occurs after age 60, but possibly may not cause any vision problems.
- Around age 75, most people have cataracts which do affect their vision.
Visual problems can be:
- Cloudy or blurryvision.
- Colors seem faded.
- Glare. Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
- Poor night vision.
- Double vision or multiple images in one eye. (This symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.)
- Problems seeing outlines against a background or the difference between shades of color
- Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Cataracts lead to an impaired vision, including in daylight, although frequently, the changes are slight. Most people with cataracts have similar changes in both eyes or one eye can be worse than the other.
The best prevention consists of controlling illnesses that increase the risk of developing cataracts. But certain lifestyle habits may help slow cataract development. These include:
- Not smoking.
- Wearing a hat or sunglasses when you are in the sun.
- Avoiding sunlamps and tanning booths.
- Eating healthy foods.
- Avoiding the use of steroid medicines when possible (some people need them).
- Keeping diabetes under control.
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