Cataracts

Overview

A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye that leads to a decrease in vision. Left untreated, it is the most common cause of blindness and is conventionally treated with surgery. Vision loss occurs because opacification of the lens obstructs light from passing through and being focused on to the retina at the back of the eye.

Causes

The most common cause of cataracts is biological aging and overexposure to ultraviolet light. The lens lies behind the iris and pupil and works to focus light onto the retina at the back of the eye. The rest of our eye structures work together to adjust and transmit images to the brain, which allows us to see objects and colors.

The lens is made of mostly water and proteins. The protein stays aligned in a way that the lens remains clear. As we age, this protein can clump together and become opaque. Much like trying to look through a foggy window, the clouding is what causes blurriness and difficulty seeing and is called a cataract.

While there is no guaranteed way to avoid cataracts, wearing eyewear and sunwear that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays can slow the onset as well as decrease the exposure to direct sunlight. People with cataracts commonly experience difficulty in appreciating colors and changes in contrast, driving, reading, recognizing faces, and coping with glare from bright lights.

Treatment

There are many treatment options. They include over-the-counter remedies and prescription eyedrops and ointments. Occasionally, minor eyelid surgery is necessary to remove cysts when topical treatments are unsuccessful. In rare cases, ongoing treatment may be required to keep the eyes comfortable and symptom-free. Eyelid hygiene can help maintain eye comfort and appearance. Routine care includes frequent face washing, cleaning the scalp, eyelid scrubs, and sometimes doing a soak or warm compress.

Dr. Provost can diagnose this eye health condition or spot other potential problems during a comprehensive eye exam. If you have any concerns about your eyes or questions about changes to your vision, please contact us or speak with us at your next appointment.