What are Cataracts? Here’s What to Know

Did you know cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss worldwide among people over 40? In fact, according to a study completed at the University of Chicago, cataracts account for approximately 42% of all cases of blindness.

The good news is that with proper diagnosis and prompt treatment, the effects of cataracts can be successfully reversed, restoring clarity and sight for many.

If you or a loved one are living with a cataract, our Eye Specialists of Louisiana team is here to help.

Contact us today for a consultation, or continue reading to learn more about this vision-related condition.

What are Cataracts?

A cataract is a common eye condition where the eye’s lens becomes cloudy, causing blurry vision.

Cataracts often develop slowly and can occur in one or both eyes.

This condition is commonly linked to aging but can also be caused by factors like injury, certain medications, or medical conditions.

As cataracts progress, they can significantly impact vision, making it difficult to perform daily tasks like reading or driving.

What is the First Sign of Cataracts?

The first sign of cataracts is typically subtle vision changes.

These changes may include:

  • Blurred or cloudy vision.
  • Increased sensitivity to glare.
  • Difficulty seeing at night.
  • Colors appearing faded or yellowing.

Early detection and treatment are vital to preserving your vision and quality of life.

If you’re experiencing any of these early signs, scheduling an appointment with our team is essential.

Other Cataract Symptoms

People with cataracts can have different signs and symptoms, and the severity can vary.

The most common symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Dim vision.
  • Double vision in one or both eyes.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Need for more light when reading or doing other close activities.
  • Frequent changes in your corrective lens prescription.

It is essential to know that when cataracts are small, symptoms tend to be mild or only appear in certain situations.

People who wear corrective lenses, such as contacts or eyeglasses, may mistake these inconsistent early warning signs as a change in vision or chalk them up to being tired.

Paying close attention to changes in your vision is imperative to your overall eye health.

Cataract Stages

Cataracts progress through different stages, each with its characteristics and impact on vision:

  • Early Stage: Cataracts may not significantly affect vision in the early stages. Symptoms could include slightly blurred vision, increased glare sensitivity, and minor color perception changes.
  • Intermediate Stage: As the cataract progresses, vision may become noticeably blurred or cloudy. Glare from lights, particularly at night, may become more bothersome. Tasks such as reading or driving may become more challenging.
  • Advanced Stage: In the advanced stage, cataracts severely impair vision. Vision may become significantly blurred or distorted, making it difficult to perform daily activities. Colors may appear dull, and halos around lights may accompany vision.

It’s essential to monitor cataract progression with your eye care professional regularly.

Cataract Causes and Risk Factors

Cataracts have many causes, like genetic disorders, certain medications, or medical issues. However, most develop them because of injury or advanced age.

Common causes include:

  • Increasing age
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Previous eye injury, inflammation, or surgery
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes

How Can I Protect My Eyes From Cataracts?

While there is no proven way to prevent or slow the progression of a cataract, the ophthalmologists at Eye Specialists of Louisiana recommend the following strategies:

  • Get regular eye exams.

A comprehensive eye exam is the best way to find eye diseases early when treatment to prevent further damage or vision loss is most effective.

  • Manage diabetes.

People with diabetes with unchecked glucose levels can damage the blood vessels in their eyes, which increases the risk of cataracts and other eye conditions.

  • Eat healthy foods.

Eat more antioxidant-rich fruits and leafy green because they help maintain the health of your eyes. Also, omega-3 fatty acids (found in many types of fish) reduce the risk of cataract development and progression.

  • Wear sunglasses.

Years of exposure to harmful UVA and UVB sun rays cause the protein in the eye lens to clump and thicken (cataract). Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection.

  • Quit smoking.

Smoking increases pressure inside the eye, alters the lens cells through oxidation, and accumulates heavy metals in the lens, which can accelerate a cataract.

  • Reduce alcohol use.

Alcohol consumption increases the number of free radicals in your body, leading to increased protein in the eye’s lens.

How are Cataracts Treated?

At Eye Specialists of Louisiana, we specialize in the following treatments following a comprehensive cataract diagnosis:

Dropless cataract surgery is the most convenient and advanced technique in surgical eye care today. It consists of a one-time dose of all the medicine the eye needs during surgery, eliminating the need for weeks of post-surgery eye drops.

Unlike traditional (manual) cataract surgery, the LenSx laser uses a light beam to create precise, repeatable incisions. This helps improve refractive outcomes. It can also be combined with dropless cataract surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cataracts

Discover answers to commonly asked questions about this common eye issue below.

How Can You Tell If You Have Cataracts?

You may have them if you notice symptoms such as blurred vision, increased sensitivity to glare, difficulty seeing at night, or faded colors.

Can Cataracts Come Back?

No, they can’t return once removed. Some patients may develop a secondary cataract called posterior capsular opacification, which can be treated with a simple laser procedure.

Can Cataracts Be Reversed?

No, they cannot be reversed with medication or lifestyle changes, but they can be effectively treated with surgery to restore clear vision.

Can Cataracts Cause Headaches?

While cataracts themselves do not cause headaches, eye strain from blurred vision or increased sensitivity to light associated with this eye condition may lead to discomfort or headaches.

Can Cataracts Cause Blindness?

Severe untreated cataracts can lead to vision loss and, in rare cases, blindness. However, surgery is highly successful at restoring vision in most cases.

Experience Expert Cataract Care in Louisiana

Blurry, foggy, cloudy, or even double vision at any distance are common symptoms of cataracts.

If you or a loved one are experiencing new or worsening cataract symptoms, it’s essential to talk to an experienced ophthalmologist about any changes in your vision.

Over time, as the cataract worsens and less light reaches the retina, it becomes harder to see, so prompt diagnosis and treatment are critical.

If you develop sudden changes, like double vision or flashes of light, eye pain, or headaches, visit Eye Specialists of Louisiana immediately for a comprehensive eye exam.

We can help protect your vision and keep it from getting worse. Schedule an appointment today to learn more about cataract treatment in Baton Rouge, LA.