The group, Prevent Blindness Vision Problems in the U.S., reports more than 22.3 million Americans have cataracts.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens, which blocks or changes the passage of light into the eye. The lens of the eye is located behind the pupil and the colored iris, and is normally transparent. The lens helps to focus images onto the retina—which transmits the images to the brain. When a cataract develops, your vision may become blurry or dim because the cataract stops light from properly passing through to your retina.
Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness among older adults in the United States. More than half of all Americans have cataracts by the time they are 80 years old. Cataracts can sometimes be found in young people or even newborns. The exact cause of a cataract is unknown. Most often, a cataract is part of the aging process—as you age, you are at a greater risk of developing a cataract.
There are several possible risk factors for cataracts, such as:
• Intense heat or long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun
• Certain diseases, such as diabetes
• Inflammation in the eye
• Hereditary influences
• Events before birth, such as German measles in the mother
• Long-term steroid use Eye injuries Eye diseases and
The following problems may indicate that you have a cataract:
• You have blurred vision, double vision, ghost images, or the sense of a “film” over your eyes.
• Lights seem too dim for reading or close-up work, or you are “dazzled” by strong light.
• You change eyeglass prescriptions often and the change does not seem to help your vision.
• You may also be able to see the cataract in your eye. It may look like a milky or yellowish spot in your pupil.
Generally, a cataract does not cause pain, redness or tears. Cataracts are most likely caused by changes related to aging. Throughout our lives, our bodies replace old cells with new ones. As we grow older, the old cells in our eye’s lens build up and block light as it tries to pass through. The end result is cloudy vision.
The National Eye Institute recently sponsored the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), which revealed that lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation reduced the risk of progression of AMD, one of the leading causes of blindness and visual impairment today.
They recommend it is best to take steps to slow down, if not prevent developing cataracts in your precious eyes. Preventing vision damage starts with replenishing the nutrients your eyes lose before it starts. Specialized supplements designed for eye health help safeguard your sight—naturally.
PreventBlindness.org offers this Facts & Myths About Cataracts Fact Sheet to further explain cataracts.