Cataracts: What Seniors Should Know

Cataracts are small clouding of your eye’s lens that can greatly affect your vision. As people age, cataracts often form in their lenses and can cause your vision to blur or become impaired at night. There are numerous types of cataracts, but the most common are age-related cataracts and affect large numbers of elderly populations. Fortunately though, cataracts are easily treatable and can be completely removed from your eyes with a simple surgery. If you have noticed a slight clouding of your vision or have noticed that glares bother you greatly, then contact your eye doctor for an appointment. They can diagnose you with a simple appointment and can talk with you about your treatment options.

Risk Factors

Age is the most common risk factor for developing cataracts. As people age they may start to develop blurry vision. People tend to notice the first decreases in their vision around age 40 or 50. Often, this is the beginning of cataracts. Other risk factors for developing cataracts include: Family History, Diabetes, Glaucoma, Trauma, Smoking, UV Light and Steroids.

Patients with a strong family history of cataracts and other eye diseases will have an increased risk of developing cataracts as they age. If you have a family history of any eye diseases, then you need to be seeing an eye doctor regularly. An eye doctor can watch for the signs and symptoms of cataracts and determine the proper course of treatment for you as you age. Diabetes is another risk factor for developing cataracts. Constant exposure to high blood sugar can damage your eyes and put you at a greater risk for developing many eye disorders, including cataracts. Glaucoma in itself is not a risk factor for developing cataracts, however many simple surgeries that help reduce your symptoms of glaucoma can actually increase your risk for cataracts. This is due to the trauma your eyes will undergo during surgery. Trauma of any kind, including an injury or surgery, can greatly increase your risk for developing cataracts in your lifetime. Other lifestyle choices including smoking, constant exposure to UV light, and persistent steroid use can increase your overall risk for developing cataracts.

Causes and Symptoms

Most people who do develop cataracts have a few questions. Often, at the top of their list, is how their cataracts developed. Your eyes are phenomenal, and can allow you to see a great amount of detail all around you. They work similarly to a camera lens. Human eyes have a lens that lies directly behind your iris and your pupil. This lens will focus light onto your retina. Certain neural connections will transfer the light into an image that your brain recognizes and you will be able to see everything around you. The lens of your eye is composed mostly of proteins. These proteins are arranged very intricately to allow the most light into your eyes. As you age, the proteins will begin to degrade and you may develop small clumps of protein in your lenses. These clumps of protein are cataracts. As you continue to age, they can grow larger and make your lens cloudy. The cloudiness comes from your lens not being able to refract light perfectly.

At first, cataracts will not typically cause any symptoms. Once they begin causing symptoms, they have grown significantly and are becoming detriment to your vision. Once symptoms do develop they can include: blurry vision, double vision, faded color vision, sensitivity to glares and vision distortion.


Once diagnosed, the main treatment for cataracts is surgery. Cataract surgery is an elective surgery that is almost never considered an emergency. For this reason, if you do have cataracts then you have the decision to keep your vision as is, or to undergo surgery. However, cataracts can cause blindness if left untreated for many years. Cataract extraction is a simple surgery that can be completed in an eye surgical office. If you have cataracts in both of your eyes, then surgery can be completed on both eyes, but at different times. During surgery, an eye surgeon will numb your eye and extract your cataract by removing or dissolving your lens. Then, he will place a new lens in your eye and give you perfect or close to perfect vision. Many older people do opt to have surgery, because after surgery, they do not have to use glasses or contacts to improve their vision.

If surgery is not for you, then you could wear glasses or contacts to improve your vision. However, corrective glasses may not work for everyone, and will not cure your cataracts. The only cure for cataracts is to remove them surgically.


Cataracts are one of the most common reasons for blindness around the world. If they grow too large, then they can impede your vision greatly and cause you to lose sight in the affected eye. However, most people go to the eye doctor long before their vision is greatly affected by their cataracts. While cataracts need to be taken out to completely restore your vision to its optimum level, some people opt to keep their cataracts. For these people, their largest risk would be blindness. However, if they see their eye doctor regularly then they can watch the size and shape of their cataracts to ensure that they do receive proper treatment before they lose their sight. There are no other complications of cataracts that are known.

Cataracts are a common eye disorder that affects thousands of people around the world. They are very common and very easy to treat. While there are many types of cataracts, the most common are age-related cataracts. As people age, their lenses break down and they form small clumps of proteins. This protein clumps are cataracts and can affect the light that enters your eye. If you or your elderly relative has been complaining about their vision diminishing, then set up an appointment with an eye doctor. With a simple appointment, an optometrist can determine if you do have cataracts and what are the proper treatment options for you.

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