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Cataract Center

If your vision has become cloudy or things you see are not as bright as they used to be, a cataract may have developed in one or both of your eyes. A cataract is a clouding of the eye's naturally clear lens. Your eye becomes like a window that is frosted or yellowed.

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The amount and pattern of cloudiness within the lens can vary. If the cloudiness is not near the center of the lens, you may not be aware that a cataract is present.

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What is a Cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye's naturally clear lens. Your eye becomes like a window that is frosted or yellowed. If your vision has become cloudy or things you see are not as bright as they used to be, a cataract may have developed in one or both of your eyes.

Signs & Symptoms

The only way to know if you have cataracts for certain is when your ophthalmologist does a dilated eye exam. Most age-related cataracts develop gradually. As a result, you may not immediately notice changes in your vision when cataracts first develop.

In time, you may have symptoms such as:

  • Painless clouded, blurry or dim vision [see example];
  • Increasing difficulty seeing at night or in low light [see example];
  • Sensitivity to light and glare, seeing halos around lights [see example];
  • Colors seem faded or yellowed;
  • The need for brighter light for reading and other activities;
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription; or
  • Double vision within one eye.

Causes

Cataracts occur as part of the aging process, so everyone is at risk eventually. By age 75, about 70 percent of people will have cataracts. The eye's lens slowly becomes less flexible, less transparent and thicker. Then areas of the lens become cloudy. Usually cataracts develop in both eyes at about the same time.

These factors increase the risk of developing cataracts:

  • Advanced age;
  • Diabetes;
  • Family history;
  • Smoking;
  • Previous eye injury or inflammation;
  • Prolonged steroid use (especially combined use of oral and inhaled steroids); and
  • Extensive exposure to sunlight.

Cataract Center

Prevention

Although cataracts have no scientifically proven prevention, it is sometimes said that wearing ultraviolet-protecting sunglasses may slow the development of cataracts. Regular intake of antioxidants (such as vitamin A, C and E) is theoretically helpful, but taking them as a supplement has been shown to have no benefit. The less well known antioxidant N-acetylcarnosine has been shown in randomized controlled clinical trials to treat cataracts, and can be expected to prevent their formation by similar mechanisms. N-acetylcarnosine is a proposed treatment for other ocular disorders that are instigated, or exacerbated by oxidative stress including glaucoma, retinal degeneration, corneal disordes, and ocular inflammation.

Treatment

Although cataracts have no scientifically proven prevention, it is sometimes said that wearing ultraviolet-protecting sunglasses may slow the development of cataracts. Regular intake of antioxidants (such as vitamin A, C and E) is theoretically helpful, but taking them as a supplement has been shown to have no benefit. The less well known antioxidant N-acetylcarnosine has been shown in randomized controlled clinical trials to treat cataracts, and can be expected to prevent their formation by similar mechanisms. N-acetylcarnosine is a proposed treatment for other ocular disorders that are instigated, or exacerbated by oxidative stress including glaucoma, retinal degeneration, corneal disordes, and ocular inflammation.

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