A cataract is when the lateral lens of the eye becomes clouded. Cataracts are very common in adults whom are 40 or older, making it essential to get frequent eye exams in order to detect and treat them. Furthermore, they are the primary cause of blindness and vision loss in adults who are 40 years of age or older. They are more common than three other major eye diseases combined: diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
What causes cataracts?
The natural lens of the eye is located behind the pupil and the iris and it is very similar to a camera lens. It adjusts the focus of the eye and it also focuses incoming light on the retina. Protein and water mostly make up the lens, with the protein set up in a particular way so that the lens is clear and that light can easily pass through it. As a person ages, that protein can start to clump up and cause a small part of the lens to cloud up, and this results in a cataract.
Smoking is one major risk factor
Smoking is considered to be a major risk factor for developing cataracts. Smokers significantly increase their risk of developing a cataract in comparison to those who do not smoke. Studies have shown that most smokers double their risk of getting cataracts, and the more frequent a person smokes the higher their risk. Cataracts may also be caused by medication, trauma, physical injury, systemic diseases, eye diseases, or poor nutrition.
For questions about cataracts or to schedule an appointment, please contact Ophthalmic Specialists of Michigan.