The eye's natural crystalline lens helps us focus on people and things at varying distances. Unfortunately, as we grow older this lens often stiffens and hardens, and without its youthful suppleness it loses its ability to focus, creating vision problems. This condition — for most, a natural consequence of aging — is called presbyopia.
As we age, these changes occurring to the natural crystalline lens can lead to the development of Cataract, or a loss in clarity of the lens. Since the lens is no longer as flexible or as clear as it used to be, the eye can't focus light properly.
What Causes Cataract?
While Cataract can occur as a result of other eye diseases, they mostly develop naturally with age. In fact, by age 65, many of us will develop a cataract.
There are other, less common causes of Cataract as well, including heredity, birth defects, chronic diseases such as diabetes, excessive use of steroid medications, and certain eye injuries.
Symptoms of Cataract
At first, symptoms may be undetectable or very slight. However, any noticeable change in vision may be cause for concern, and should be brought to the attention of an eye care professional. Common symptoms of Cataract include:
Treatment for Cataract
While there is no way to prevent Cataract, there are things you can do to slow their formation. Modifiable factors that increase the risk of cataract include smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and excessive alcohol intake. You may also slow the formation of Cataract by protecting your eyes from direct sunlight.
In the beginning stages of Cataract, vision may be slightly improved using forms of visual correction. However, in the later stages, surgery may be required. Fortunately, surgery has proven to be extremely successful in the removal of Cataract. During cataract surgery, your physician will replace your natural lens with an IOL.