Given that cataracts are one of the most common vision problems throughout the world, you probably know, or will know, at least one person who suffers from this vision ailment in your lifetime. However, despite how prevalent cataracts are throughout the world and how popular cataract removal is in the United States, you may not fully understand what a cataract is.

What Is A Cataract?

To understand how a cataract affects our vision, you must first understand the basics of clear vision. In a normal, unaffected eye, light passes through a clear, uninterrupted lens before it reaches the retina―a light sensitive tissue that lines the inner surface of the eye. However, in an eye that has a cataract, the lens becomes cloudy due to a number of different reasons (most commonly biological aging), which can distort the rays of light that come in and prevents light from being focused on the retina. This can cause your vision to become severely distorted.

What Causes Cataracts?

The most common cause of cataracts is the natural aging process. Approximately 50% of all people in the United States over the age of 65 have cataracts, and as people get older, the risk of cataracts only increases. The reason for this is that the lens proteins in our eyes tend to break down and degrade over time. This process is even more accelerated by health problems such as diabetes and hypertension.

However there are a number of other lifestyle factors that may lead to cataracts, including:

  • Ultraviolent radiation: Being exposed to excessive sunlight or not wearing eye protection when out in the sun.
  • Eye injuries: Blunt trauma to the eye that easily cause swelling, thickening and whitening of the lens fibers in the eye, or can even cause damage to the capsule in which the lens sits.
  • Smoking: Many studies have been released that show that cigarette smokers have a much higher risk of getting cataracts than non-smokers.
  • Genetics: Many researchers believe that the genetic component is very strong when it comes to the development of cataracts, mostly through mechanisms that protect and maintain the lens.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as steroids, increase the risk of developing cataracts in younger patients.

Different Types of Cataracts

There are actually three different major types of cataracts. While some people may have a combination of all three types, it is quite uncommon. The three types of cataracts include:

  • Nuclear cataracts – The central part of the lens is more opaque. The central part of the lens is more opaque. This type of cataract typically affects a person’s distance vision, while leaving the reading vision relatively spared.
  • Cortical cataracts – The more peripheral regions of the lens become whitened as a side effect of the disease. This type of cataract can be thoroughly extensive and only has minimal effect on vision.
  • Posterior subcapsular cataracts – The back surface of the eye’s lens develops the major opacity. This type of cataract typically affects a person’s reading vision and gives the most problems with glare.

To find out more questions about cataracts, including “what is cataract surgery,” be sure to check out our Cataract Surgery page. Also be sure to contact EyeCare 20/20 today for more information or questions about cataract surgery in New Jersey. Call us today at (973) 560-1500 or fill out the quick contact form on the left to schedule your free consultation.