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Understanding Cataracts: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Cataracts are a common eye condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a progressive condition that causes the natural lens in your eye to become cloudy, resulting in blurry or hazy vision. Cataracts can occur in one or both eyes and can affect people of all ages, but they are more common in people over 60.

What are cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens in the eye, which is responsible for focusing light onto the retina at the back of the eye. The lens is made up of water and proteins that are arranged in a specific way to keep the lens clear and allow light to pass through. However, as we age, the proteins in the lens can clump together and form a cloudy area, which is called a cataract. Over time, it can affect the clarity of your vision, making it difficult to see clearly.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

Cataracts can develop slowly and may not cause any noticeable symptoms in the early stages. However, as the cataract grows, you may start to notice the following symptoms:
• Blurry, hazy, or cloudy vision
• Double vision
• Sensitivity to light
• Difficulty seeing at night
• Seeing halos around lights
• Fading or yellowing of colors
Cataracts can cause dramatic changes in your eyeglass prescriptions until eyeglasses alone don’t improve your vision. Vision issues while reading, driving, shopping, sewing, or watching TV may mean you have cataracts.

What causes cataracts?

While aging is the most common cause of cataracts, there are other risk factors that can increase your chances of developing cataracts. These risk factors include:
• Family history of cataracts
• Diabetes
• Obesity
• Smoking
• Prolonged exposure to sunlight
• Previous eye surgery or injury
• Certain medications, such as steroids
It’s also important to mention what doesn’t cause cataracts. Cataracts are not caused by eye strain. They are also not cancerous or a tumor. Cataracts are not a growth on your eye or lens. They are permanent changes to the eye’s natural-focusing lens.

Is there a cure for cataracts?

Currently, there is no cure for cataracts. If the cataract has progressed and is affecting your daily life, surgery may be recommended. During cataract surgery, a tiny incision (about 3 millimeters, less than 1/8 inch) is made, and the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. It’s an outpatient surgery using local anesthesia and usually last less than fifteen minutes. It requires no stitches, shots, or eye patches.

Watch as Iowa Eye Center Ophthalmologist Dr. Muller talks about cataracts and surgery to restore vision.

Our Iowa Eye Center surgeons have performed thousands of cataract surgeries over the past three decades. If you are concerned about cataracts, give us a call at (319) 362-3937 to set up an appointment.

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