Cataracts is most commonly a slow clouding of the patient’s natural lens in the eye. Signs and symptoms of a cataract are blurring of your distance vision and increasing glare from bright lights. A cataract only needs to be removed once the patient is having symptoms and is ready for surgery. Although most cataracts progress slowly, there are types that will progress more rapidly causing significant glare. Nearly half of the population has one cataract by age 65. In rare cases, cataracts appear in younger people, including infants.
The lens is composed of a mixture of water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and lets light pass through; however, when the proteins clump together, they cause cloudiness on the lens, and as it spreads it interferes with your ability to see clearly.
- Nuclear cataract is the most common type of cataract. They form in the center of the lens, the nucleus, and is due to natural aging changes.
- Cortical cataracts form on the outside of the lens cortex and gradually extends its spokes from the outside and spreads to the center. These are commonly seen in patients who have diabetes.
- Subcapsular cataracts start at the back of the lens and are frequently seen in people who are extremely farsighted, have retinitis pigmentosa or take high doses of steroids.
A cataract check is routine when you have a comprehensive eye exam at Rocky Mountain Eye Center. Most cataracts start small and are almost unnoticeable. You may notice your vision is blurred a little. If your doctor spots a cataract, you may not need to have a procedure done immediately. You may be able to improve your vision for a while using new glasses, strong bifocals, magnification, appropriate lighting or other visual aids. Most doctors will want you to return for frequent exams. If you find the cataract interferes with your vision and impairs your lifestyle, see your surgeon immediately.