A cataract is a description of an eye condition that describes clouding of the normally clear natural lens inside of your eye. The lens helps to focus images on to the light sensitive tissue in the back of our eyes, called the retina. When the lens clouds enough it causes a decrease in vision. The lens is made mostly of proteins and water. As we age, those proteins begin to clump together and that leads to the clouding of the lens.
Most cataracts are age-related. The term “age-related’ is a little misleading. You don’t have to be a senior citizen to develop this condition. You can develop significant lens clouding in your 40s and 50s. Most often during middle-age, these changes are small and don’t effect vision.
There are other causes leading to cataract formation. Certain diseases such as diabetes are associated with an increased risk of cataracts. Eye trauma can cause the lens to cloud as well. Also, medications, most notably long term use of steroids, can lead to the development of cataracts.
I am often asked, “What can I do to prevent cataracts? What about sunglasses, vitamins, carrots?” Unfortunately, the short answer is one you don’t want to hear, “No, there is nothing you can do to prevent cataracts.” Modern medicine has not yet figured out how to prevent cataracts from forming or keep them from getting worse. The best solution to help you see better is to have the cataract removed.