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Does everyone get cataracts?

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Up close photo of a cataract in an older woman's left eye.

If you’ve recently noticed your vision becoming cloudier or more sensitive to bright lights, you may have developed cataracts.

Cataracts are something that almost everyone will deal with at some point in their life. Cataracts are a cloudy buildup in your eye that can obscure your vision, making it more difficult to see things clearly, or even causing sensitivity to bright lights.

They’re a rather common condition that occurs as you get older, and are easily fixed by a simple cataract surgery. The most common cause of cataracts is aging, but many other factors can contribute to cataracts developing earlier, such as trauma to the eye or even other diabetes.

If you’re worried that you’ve developed cataracts recently, it’s important to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your eye care professional to discuss solutions.

What are cataracts?

Your eye has a natural lens that bends light so your eye can build a clear picture of what it sees. This lens is normally clear and completely unobstructed.

Cataracts, simply put, are cloudy spots in the lens of your eyes. They occur when your eye naturally develops a buildup of protein over time. This protein eventually clumps together into a deposit and begins to obscure part of your eye’s natural lens. These deposits block light from entering your eye, so things begin to appear cloudy, blurry, or even doubled. 

At first, cataracts are rarely even noticeable. They develop slowly, so as time passes, your vision gets worse and the symptoms become more severe. Though cataracts are by no means life-threatening, they can still be an extreme inconvenience in your day-to-day life.

Almost everybody will deal with cataracts at some point in their life. More than half of Americans over the age of 75 have had cataracts or cataract surgery performed. Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the entire country.

What are the symptoms of having cataracts?

There are several symptoms that you’ve developed a cataract in your eye. They are:

  • Blurry vision 
  • Sensitivity to light, or discomfort when looking at a bright light 
  • A halo effect when looking at a bright light (like oncoming headlights or overhead lights)
  • Double vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Faded colors
  • A visible discoloration of your eyeball

You should speak with your eye doctor if you develop any of these symptoms. 

Illustration of a healthy eye with labeled components including cornea, iris, lens, and optic nerve, highlighting the presence of cataracts in the lens.

Why do cataracts develop?

Age is the most common cause of cataracts developing; they normally develop between the ages of 40-50. As you get older, the proteins in the lens of your eye naturally begin to degrade and break down. As they do, they clump together and block part of the lens. 

When these deposits clump together, your eye begins to discolor and become cloudy, distorting or obscuring what it sees and causing issues with your vision.

Age isn’t the only cause of cataracts developing, however. Any damage to your eye, such as an eye injury caused by blunt trauma, can contribute to the development of a cataract. Damage from UV rays caused by extreme exposure to the sun can contribute to cataract development as well. 

Cataracts can also be caused by many different health issues, such as diabetes. In patients with diabetes, cataracts are almost four times as likely to occur than in someone without diabetes.

Excessive alcohol use or smoking tobacco may also accelerate the development of cataracts.

What to do if you get cataracts

The only way that cataracts can be properly treated is with a simple surgery. The process is as simple as removing your eye’s clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. As cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the country, we here at Bettner vision are confident that we can help. 

At Bettner Vision, we’re committed to helping you every step of the way. Our experienced specialists can help you with everything you need to ensure your cataracts will be handled with complete comfort and care.

To speak with a professional today and see if cataract surgery is the right choice for you, contact us and book an appointment.

Written by Dr. Christopher Bettner, OD

Dr. Christopher Bettner has been serving the optometric needs of Colorado Springs since 1995. He is trained in ocular pathology with an emphasis in the treatment and management of ocular disease, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and pre- and post-operative care.

More Articles By Dr. Christopher Bettner, OD

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