When someone hears the term cataracts, they often associate it with the aging process. While cataracts are a problem experienced by many older people, it is actually not confined to any specific age group. In fact, cataracts can even be congenital, affecting infants and very young children. If you were surprised to learn that even youngsters can be affected by cataracts, here is some additional information you should know.
There are many types of cataracts
In addition to congenital and age-related cataracts, there are three additional types, including:
- radiation cataracts, caused by exposure to certain types of radiation
- traumatic cataracts, caused by a current or past eye injury
- secondary cataracts, which develop because of a another health problem, such as glaucoma, diabetes, or after steroid use or surgery for another eye condition
According to statistics from the National Eye Institute, more than 24 million Americans were estimated to suffer some form of cataracts, so it is important to learn as much as possible about this common health condition.
Some factors increase the risk
Some existing health conditions and behaviors are believed to greatly increase the risk of developing cataracts at some point during your lifetime. Some of the most common risk factors include:
- regular alcohol consumption
- frequent unprotected exposure to ultraviolet light
- uncontrolled blood sugar and diabetes
- uncontrolled high blood pressure
In addition, long-term usage of some common medications, such as statins, has now been linked to an increased risk of cataracts.
Possible symptoms to watch for
Now that you know that your age is not always a determining factor in who will get cataracts, it is important to be alert for the symptoms that could mean you are developing this eye condition. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- quickly worsening vision that requires frequent changes in your eye prescription
- noticing night vision issues
- experiencing increasing levels of glare when faced with sudden bright light, such as when stepping out into sunlight or when meeting oncoming traffic at night
- suddenly experiencing double vision issues in one eye
- noticing clouded vision or feeling that colors look less sharp and crisp
Cataracts detection is done with an examination that dilates the eye so that your eye care professional can more easily examine the retina, lens, and optic nerve of your eye, along with measuring the interior pressure.
If cataracts are detected, an eye care professional, like those at Cornea Consultants of Nashville, will explain your options, including continued monitoring of your condition and when to consider cataract surgery.