Cataracts – Common Types, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. Learn more about the common cataract types and the causes, symptoms and treatments from the cataract specialists at Elmquist Eye Group.

Cataracts - Common Types, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

What is a Cataract?

Cataracts are cloudy areas in the normally clear lens of the eye, the part of the eye responsible for focusing light and producing clear, sharp images. Cataracts affect one in six Americans over the age of 40.

The three primary types of cataracts are nuclear sclerotic, subscapular and cortical. Nuclear sclerotic cataracts, those that cloud the central “nucleus” of the lens, are the most common. Cataracts may also form after an eye injury (called traumatic cataracts) and after surgery for other eye conditions, such as glaucoma (called secondary cataracts).

Certain diseases, such as diabetes, as well as some medications, including prednisone and corticosteroids, can cause cataracts to develop. And, although not common, babies can be born with cataracts or develop them during their first year of life.

What Causes Cataracts?

The lens of the eye consists mostly of water and protein. As we age, the protein may begin to clump together and cause part of the lens to become cloudy. In the beginning, you may not notice a vision problem.  However, as time goes on, the cataract may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it more difficult to read and perform other routine daily activities.

Cataract Symptoms

Most cataracts develop very gradually. You may not notice any symptoms until the cataract has progressed and you have trouble with reading or difficulty with night vision. Here are some of the other common symptoms:

  • Cloudy, dim or blurry vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night or in low light
  • Sensitivity to halos and glare from lights
  • Colors look faded or yellowed
  • Brighter light is needed for reading and other activities
  • Frequent eyeglass prescription changes
  • Double vision in one eye

How are Cataracts Treated?

Cataracts cannot be treated with medicines, vitamins or eye drops. Surgery is the only proven treatment. During cataract surgery, the clouded lens is removed and replaced with a customized, artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL).

Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most highly perfected surgical procedures in medicine, with a 95% success rate. Of course, as with any surgery, risks do exist and should be discussed with your Elmquist eye doctor before the procedure.

If you would like more information about the common types of cataracts, or the causes, symptoms and treatment options, get in touch with Dr. Yasaira Rodriguez at (239) 936-2020 and schedule an appointment. The Elmquist team will be delighted to help.