Cataracts: Not All Cataracts are the Same

June 11th, 2019

Having a sudden vision change due to cloudy or blurry eye sight can impact the quality of one’s life. However, having an issue such as this is an expected outcome that can come with age.

There are three eye conditions that most commonly arise later in life: Cataracts, Macular Degeneration, and Glaucoma.1

Since June is Cataract Awareness Month, we will take a closer look into cataracts. We will explore what a cataract is, the types of cataracts there are, and how cataracts are detected. Detection is of key importance because approximately half of all Americans have cataracts by the age of 75.1

WHAT IS A CATARACT?

Knowing what a cataract is can be a beneficial component in helping you to identify what is going on with your vision especially if a sudden change is due to cloudy or blurred vision. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens, which blocks or changes the passage of light into the eye often causing blurriness and dimness to your sight.

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF CATARACTS?

The first type is age-related cataracts, and this comes in three versions: nuclear, cortical, and posterior subcapsular.

  1. Nuclear cataracts, also known as “second sight,” is the most common and may cause improved nearsightedness or improvement in vision but this is only temporary. As time continues the lens gradually turns more densely yellow and further clouds your vision. This type of cataract affects the center of the lens.1
  2. Cortical cataracts begin as whiteish, wedge-shaped streaks on the outer edge of your lens. As it slowly progresses, the streaks extend to the center and interfere with light passing through the center of the lens.1
  3. Posterior Subcapsular cataracts start as a small, opaque area that usually forms near the back of the lens, right in the path of light. It often interferes with your reading vision, reduces your vision in bright light, and causes glare or halos around lights at night. These types of cataracts tend to progress faster than other types do.1

The second type is congenital cataracts.

Some people are born with cataracts or develop them during childhood. These cataracts may be genetic or associated with an intrauterine infection or trauma. The ones that are present at birth are usually caused by infection or inflammation during pregnancy.1,2

The third type is traumatic cataracts.

This type of cataract is as the name implies, it is due to some type of trauma: a hard blow, cut, puncture, intense heat or chemical burn.2 As a result, this traumatic event may cause damage that affects the lens and leads to a cataract.

The fourth type is secondary cataracts.

Some medicines, eye disease, UV radiation, eye infection, or diseases such as diabetes cause this type of cataract.2

Cataracts usually form in both eyes, but not at the same rate. They can develop slowly or quickly, or progress to a certain point, then not get any worse. As a result, you may not notice large changes in your sight right away.2 One theory of cataract formation is that many cataracts are caused by oxidative changes in the human lens. Nutrition studies support this by showing that fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants may help prevent certain types of cataracts.4 TOZAL was designed to provide antioxidants that help the back of the eye.

Though there is no cure for cataracts, there are preventative measures that can be taken with elective surgery being the final treatment option. Your Eye Care Professional can discuss with you the best options available to you for your eye care.

Detection

However, you first must detect if you have a cataract. To check if you have a cataract in one or both eyes your Eye Care Professional will give you a comprehensive eye exam.

A comprehensive eye exam includes:

  • VISUAL ACUITY TEST- This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances, usually 10 feet and 20 feet.3
  • DILATED EYE EXAM- Drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupils. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the exam, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours. 3
  • TONOMETRY- An instrument measures the pressure inside the eye. Numbing drops may be applied to your eye for this test. 3

If you are age 60 or older, you should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years. Your eye care professional also may do other tests to learn more about the structure and health of your eye. In addition to cataract, your eye care professional can check for signs of age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other vision disorders. Early treatment for many eye diseases may save your sight.

Check out our whole family of eye care products to help keep your future in sight.

1 https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/2019-01-21/what-seniors-need-to-know-about-vision-loss
2 https://www.preventblindness.org/cataract
3https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts
4https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/cataracts.htm

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