When you think of cataracts, you may think of people later in life. This is not a coincidence. Cataracts affect over 24 million Americans over the age of 40.
This number only goes up as people continue aging. By the age of 80, half of all Americans will have or have had cataracts.
Cataracts seem like they only affect older populations, but there are different causes. Age is not the only factor.
Radiation cataracts are caused by exposure to certain types of radiation. Traumatic cataracts are caused by injury to the lens of the eye.
You can even get a type of cataract from cataract surgery. This is a relatively common occurrence that is easily fixed with follow-up surgery. Children are even born with cataracts.
Pediatric cataracts are rare and typically genetic. Certain pregnancy complications can also have a serious effect.
In some cases, the child is not born with cataracts, but they develop later on. This is likely due to illnesses such as uveitis.
In any case, cataracts in children need to be removed ASAP, or they may have difficulty “learning” how to see. Vision problems such as amblyopia may develop.
Cataract surgery is perfectly safe to perform even on infants. If the cataracts are small enough to not impede vision, it may not be necessary. Keep reading to learn more about cataracts!
What is a Cataract, Anyway?
To understand why cataracts develop, you have to know what they are in the first place. Cataracts form in the lens of the eye, which is why they affect vision so strongly.
As proteins inside the lens break down, they begin to clump together. As these clumps of proteins begin to get larger and larger, they become more opaque and block more light.
Eventually, they block enough light to have a noticeable effect on your vision.
Typically, this happens so slowly that it is difficult to notice changes in your vision at all. You get used to your poor eyesight as it worsens.
But you will notice symptoms like blurry vision, faded colors, and finding it hard to see at night. This makes doing things like driving at night harder than they need to be.
How Do Cataracts Form?
Cataracts form in different parts of the eye. This causes certain symptoms to be more prominent than others.
Nuclear cataracts form in the center of the lens and affect near vision very strongly. Vision may temporarily improve with this type of cataract, though it’s short-lived.
Cortical cataracts develop around the edge of the lens and form “spikes” that point inward. These cataracts are most associated with glare and affect depth perception.
Posterior subcapsular cataracts do not form in the lens, but in the membrane that holds the lens in place. This is where secondary cataracts from cataract surgery form.
If you use steroids or have diabetes, you’re also at risk for these. Posterior subcapsular cataracts commonly create “halos” seen with cataracts.
Concerned that you may have cataracts? Schedule a cataract screening at Arizona Eye Physicians and Surgeons in Glendale, AZ right now!