A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s normally clear lens, which leads to a progressive blurring or dimming of vision. It is the world’s leading cause of blindness and among the most common conditions related to aging – by age 65, you have a 50 percent chance of developing a cataract, and, by age 75, it jumps to 70 percent. The lens is made up of water and protein. The cataracts are caused from a clumping of the proteins in the lens.
A cataract starts out small and initially has little or no effect on vision. As the cataract progresses, it becomes harder to read and perform other normal tasks. Some colors also do not look as bright. In the early stages, your doctor may recommend stronger eyeglasses and adjusting your lighting to reduce glare. When cataracts disrupt your daily life, your doctor may recommend cataract-removal surgery, which is one of the most frequent and successful procedures done in the U.S.
There are three types of cataracts: subcapsular, nuclear, and cortical.
- A subcapsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens. People with diabetes or those taking high doses of steroid medications have a greater risk of developing a subcapsular cataract.
- A nuclear cataract forms deep in the central zone (nucleus) of the lens. Nuclear cataracts usually are associated with aging. Sometimes when this cataract first develops, there is a temporary improvement in your near vision, sometimes called a “second sight.”
- A cortical cataract (pictured) is characterized by white, wedge-like opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the center in a spoke-like fashion. This type of cataract occurs in the lens cortex, which is the part of the lens that surrounds the central nucleus.
There are many things that are thought to increase the chance of cataracts. Exposure to UV radiation, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking are all possible causes of cataracts. It is also possible that cataracts are caused by oxidative changes. It is thought that vitamin E decrease the cataracts. You can find vitamin E in sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, and green, leafy vegetables.