What Are Cataracts and How Are They Treated?

If you have cataracts, your vision will appear blurry, foggy, and possibly discolored. You might also be more sensitive to glare and bright light, or have difficulty judging distances. Cataracts have many different causes, but all types can be treated. One Community Health offers vision exams to test for cataracts. 

What Causes Cataracts?

Cataracts are a buildup of protein that clouds the lens of your eye. Because they typically form gradually over time, cataracts are most common in adults over the age of 60. Cataracts can result from genetic disposition, trauma, illness, or surgery. The type of cataracts will depend on the cause. 

Types of Cataracts

  • Nuclear Cataracts


The most common type of cataracts usually shows up in adults over a certain age. Forming in the center or nucleus of the lens, they harden the lens and turn it yellow or brown. 

  • Brunescent cataracts


If nuclear cataracts go untreated, they turn very hard and brown, forming a brunescent cataract.

  • Cortical Cataracts


Forming on the outside edge of your lens, cortical cataracts scatter light, causing glare and fogging your vision. 

  • Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts


This type forms inside the part of your eye that holds the lens in place, affecting your light perception and close-up vision. 

  • Anterior Subcapsular Cataracts


Forming inside the front of your lens capsule, this type is caused by injury, swelling, or eczema. 

  • Congenital Cataracts


This type of cataracts can be present at birth or form during childhood due to genetics or illness.

  • Traumatic Cataracts


Injuries can sometimes cause traumatic cataracts to form.

  • Secondary Cataracts


Some types of medical conditions and their treatments can cause secondary cataracts. 

  • Lamellar or Zonular Cataracts


Prominent in both eyes and in younger children, this type is caused by genetic disposition. White dots accumulate in the middle of the lens, forming a Y-shape or overtaking the lens. 

  • Posterior Polar Cataracts


Also genetic, this type of cataract forms on the back center of the lens.

  • Anterior Polar Cataracts


Non-invasive, this type forms on the front and center of your lens, and appears as small white dots.

  • Post-Vitrectomy Cataracts


Vitrectomy (a surgery to remove the vitreous, or clear gel at the center of the eye) can lead to cataracts. 

  • Christmas Tree Cataracts


This type of cataracts form shiny, colored crystals in the lens of the eye. 

  • Diabetic Snowflake Cataracts


This rare type of cataract only occurs in people with diabetes. 

What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts?

Cataracts form slowly, so you might not realize you have cataracts until your vision becomes imparied, blocked, or disoriented. Most people begin to notice their cataracts when their perception of light changes. Other symptoms can include:

  • Vision that’s cloudy, blurry, foggy, or filmy
  • Nearsightedness 
  • Changes in the way you see color
  • Problems driving at night 
  • Problems with glare during the day
  • Double vision in the affected eye
  • Trouble seeing with eyeglasses or contact lenses


How Are Cataracts Diagnosed?

Cataracts are diagnosed through a retinal exam, a visual acuity test, or a slit-lamp examination. A visual acuity test resembles a typical eye chart exam. A slit-lamp examination uses a microscope equipped with a bright light to examine your eye. A retinal exam widens your pupils using eye drops. 
All three types of exams work to determine how you perceive light and distance in regards to vision. One Community Health offers comprehensive vision tests to diagnose cataracts, and all of our vision tests are covered by Medi-Cal. If you have any symptoms of cataracts, you should schedule an appointment for vision testing.

Treatment for Cataracts

Although they cannot be prevented, cataracts can be treated. We recommend that all adults visit an optician at least once every two years, and at least once a year if they’re at risk for cataracts. If your vision is clouded, or if you are not up to date on your vision exams, contact the healthcare professionals at One Community Health. Schedule a visit today to learn more or to get your vision tested.


Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

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