Older man having trouble reading phone because of cataracts

Millions of Americans have cataracts, but do you know what causes them? Most people are not aware that cataracts can develop for a range of different reasons. 

When you have a cataract, the world can appear blurry or cloudy. It can seem like you are continuously looking through a pair of foggy glasses. 

For most people cataracts are unavoidable, but they can be effectively treated. Keep reading to find out what causes cataracts!

What is a Cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens of your eye. Normally transparent, your lens is located behind your iris.

Your lens is responsible for focusing light onto the retina at the back of your eye. When your lens is clouded, light is unable to pass through properly. 

Cataracts generally develop slowly over time. They may cause no noticeable symptoms at first. 

As they grow, you can experience the following:

older man with cataracts
  • Blurry or cloudy vision
  • Dulling or yellowing of colors
  • Light sensitivity
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Halos and starbursts around lights
  • Double vision in one eye
  • The need to change your prescription more often

When you have a cataract, ordinary tasks can become complicated, from reading to household chores. Many patients complain that they no longer feel comfortable driving at night. 

Due to reduced visual acuity, falls and other kinds of accidents can occur. If left untreated, a cataract can eventually progress to severe vision loss.

How Does Aging Cause Cataracts?

Intraocular cataract lens

Aging is the most common cause of cataracts. This type of cataract is called an age-related cataract. 

By the time they reach eighty, more than half of Americans will have experienced a cataract. They usually start forming much earlier, though. 

For most people, cataracts begin to develop in their forties. In addition to water, the eye primarily consists of proteins. 

During middle age, these break down and accumulate, forming a cloudy spot. This is a natural part of the aging process. 

A cataract grows over time. It can be small enough in the early stages to not cause many noticeable symptoms. 

With time, however, it will grow to encompass more of the eye and affect you more significantly. 

What Are Other Causes of Cataracts?

Cataract Surgery

While aging is the most common cause of cataracts, some people may develop cataracts earlier in life due to a variety of factors. Sometimes, a cataract develops after an injury to the eye. 

This is known as a traumatic cataract. It can form after trauma to the eye. 

For example, an object, like a ball or frisbee, can hit you in the eye, making an impact with the fibers. It can be several years after an incident before a cataract begins to develop. 

Cataracts can also develop because of another medical condition. These are referred to as secondary cataracts. 

For example, diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of developing a cataract. They can also arise as a result of certain medications, such as steroids and diuretics. 

Some infants are born with cataracts. These are called congenital cataracts. When the baby is born, their lens is already cloudy. 

This can affect one eye or both. Congenital cataracts can occur because of infection or premature birth. Cataracts can also develop during childhood.  

Some additional factors that raise your likelihood of developing a cataract include:

  • Smoking
  • High exposure to the sun
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

How Are Cataracts Treated?

Cataract Exam

Not everyone with a cataract will need treatment right away. Because they develop so gradually, treatment is typically only recommended if the cataract interferes with your daily life. 

For some people, turning on a brighter light to read or wearing sunglasses to protect their sensitive eyes will work in the meantime. Updating your prescription can be another temporary solution. 

However, a cataract will continue to progress and will not go away on its own. When it gets to the point where a cataract is making it difficult or impossible to complete ordinary tasks, even with these basic accommodations, talk to your eye doctor about cataract surgery. 

A cataract cannot be reversed, but it can be removed. Cataract surgery removes the lens of your eye, where the cataract forms, and replaces it with a clear artificial lens.

This new lens is known as an intraocular lens, or IOL. With the cataract gone, you’ll be able to see clearly again. 

Cataract surgery is very safe. It is one of the most common surgical procedures worldwide, with millions performed each year in the United States alone. 

Cataract surgery has a very high success and satisfaction rate, with over ninety-six percent of people happy with their results. Because of advanced lens implants, some patients can even see better than they could before their cataract. 

Is a cataract interfering with the life you want to live? No matter the cause, we can restore your vision through advanced cataract surgery.

Are you ready to see if it’s time for you to have cataract surgery? Schedule your cataract surgery consultation at Hayden Vision in Evansville, IN, today!