What are cataracts?

How much do you know about cataracts? Cataracts are extremely common, affecting more than 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40. In fact, by age 65, it’s estimated that more than 90% of people in the United States will develop cataracts, and by the time they’re 75, those cataracts will have a major impact on their vision. Knowing those statistics, it’s a good idea to know a little bit about cataracts.

  • What is a cataract? Typically found in people over age 55, a cataract is an opaque or cloudy area in the lens of the eye. Cataracts can be found in one or both eyes, but don’t spread from one eye to the other. They interfere with vision because they cause the light entering the eye to be scattered, rather than properly focused.
  • What are the symptoms of cataracts? Cataracts form slowly and cause blurred or hazy vision, reduced intensity of colors, increased sensitivity to glare, and increased difficulty seeing at night.
  • Are there different types of cataracts? Nuclear cataracts are located in the center of the iris, while cortical cataracts affect the layer of the lens that surrounds the nucleus, and posterior cataracts are on the back outer layer of the lens. Posterior cataracts develop most rapidly.
  • How can cataracts be prevented? You can’t really prevent cataracts, but you can reduce your risk of developing cataracts by eating a nutrient-dense diet, not smoking, and keeping diabetes under control. Limiting alcohol consumption, protecting your eyes from the sun, and seeing your eye doctor regularly are also good steps toward cataract prevention.
  • What’s the best treatment for cataracts? If a cataract doesn’t affect your vision, it may not require treatment. Even if it does, you can often just treat the symptoms of a cataract, by wearing eyeglasses, using brighter lighting, wearing anti-glare sunglasses, or using magnifying lenses. The only way to treat a cataract itself, though, is through surgery.
  • What’s involved in cataract surgery? Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Cataract surgery is one of the most common, and safest, surgeries performed in the United States. Your eye doctor will be able to help you determine whether it’s right for you.

If you are looking for an eye doctor, the Gerstein Eye Institute in Chicago can help. Since 1968, the Gerstein Eye Institute has been providing exceptional ophthalmologic care to patients in the Chicago area. With decades of experience in ophthalmology, our certified professional staff members have together performed over 30,000 procedures. To schedule a consultation, call us at 773.596.9545 or contact us through our website.


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