Monthly Archives: November 2020

What causes eye cataracts?

What causes eye cataracts?

Before discussing what causes cataracts we should briefly discuss what a cataract is. If you already know feel free to skip down to the next section.

What is a cataract? 

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. Clouded vision caused by cataracts can make it difficult to read, drive a car or even see the smile on your grandchild’s face. The loss of depth perception can cause a miscalculation in how close an object is or isn’t. Cataracts make vision blurry and can make it harder to see in bright light or at night and colors may appear to be duller. They are a common eye problem associated with aging that usually develop slowly. They typically don’t affect your eyesight early on, but will eventually interfere with your vision and thus, your quality of life. Untreated cataracts can lead to blindness.

By age 65, around a quarter of people develop cataracts, according to the National Eye Institute. Starting at around age 40, the chance of developing cataracts increases until by age 80, the possibility of advanced cataracts increases to more than 50%.

How do cataracts form?

Most cataracts develop when aging or injury changes the tissue that makes up your eye’s lens. When the lens of your eye becomes cloudy due to crystallin protein clumping, the resulting image is blurred and less bright. Crystallin is a water-soluble protein found in the lens, which makes the structure transparent. A healthy lens is transparent and allows maximum light to enter the eye. Cataracts occur when crystalline proteins within the lens become damaged, triggering them to misfold and aggregate into clumps inside a normally clear lens leaving them cloudy or hazy, blocking some of the light. It can cause the loss of some or all of your eyesight.

In addition to age-related cataracts, there are congenital cataracts. This is what doctors call it when babies are born with cataracts. These cataracts may be caused by infection, injury, or poor development in the womb. Or, cataracts can form during childhood. These can happen as a result of other medical conditions, such as diabetes.

Other causes for the progression of cataracts can be attributed to being around toxic substances, UV light exposure, or radiation, or from taking medicines such as corticosteroids or diuretics. Smokers are at risk for cataracts because smoking produces free radicals, which cause damage to cells, proteins and DNA and smoking increases exposure to toxins. Heavy drinking of alcohol can also increase the chance of developing cataracts.

Another risk factor for cataracts can be nutritional deficiencies from poor digestion, or inadequate intake or absorption of nutrients. Trauma can cause cataracts, as well, which can form after an injury to the head or eye or after ocular surgeries or they can occur due to other eye conditions. Some inherited genetic disorders that cause other health problems, such as diabetes can increase the possibility of forming cataracts as well.

You can click on the link to learn more about cataracts or contact us today to schedule an appointment by calling (843) 553-2477 or click here to schedule online.

Is it better to have cataract surgery early?

Is it better to have cataract surgery early?

It is always better to have cataracts removed while they are immature, since doing so will reduce the length of surgery as well as the recovery time. However, it’s never too late to have cataracts taken out. The sooner cataracts are removed after diagnosis, the less likely that the significant visual impairment associated with very mature (hyper-mature) cataracts will manifest. Yet, some people believe that since waiting to have cataract surgery won’t harm most individuals, it is good to take time to consider the options. In fact, some people consider that if your vision is still fairly decent, you may not need cataract surgery for many years, if ever.

Cataract Senior woman's eye closeup

Can you wait too long to have cataracts removed?

Cataracts can become “hyper-mature”, which makes them more difficult to remove. In some cases, this can cause complications during surgery. Usually, the best results for cataract surgery occur when surgery is performed soon after vision problems develop, whether it is due to age, disease, or injury.

When should you have cataracts removed?

As soon as you experience symptoms such as blurred vision, sensitivity to light, double vision, difficulty seeing or driving at night, you experience a loss in depth perception, or muting or fading of colors occurs, you should visit an ophthalmologist to have your vision assessed by an expert. When considering visiting an eye doctor, ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I see clearly to safely drive?
  • Can I see the road and road signs at night?
  • Do bright lights make it more difficult to see at night?
  • Do I need more light to read or do other close work?
  • Do the lights from the television or my computer bother my eyes?
  • Has it become difficult to perform normal tasks such as yard work, sewing, cooking, climbing stairs or seeing medication labels clearly?

You should also consider cataract surgery when a cataract interferes with the treatment of another eye problem. For instance, if a cataract makes it difficult for your eye doctor to examine the back of your eye to treat or keep an eye on other eye problems, such as age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, your doctor may advise you to have cataract surgery.

Contact us today at (843) 553-2477 to schedule an appointment.