What are cataracts and how do I avoid them?
Imagine looking through a foggy window for the rest of your life, or trying to see through the fog when your windshield is spattered with rain. That’s what having cataracts is like. A cataract is a clouding that starts to form over the lens of the eye which can cause foggy vision. Most cataracts develop slowly and don't disturb your eyesight early on. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision -- and they can pack a wallop when it comes to your long-term vision.
Signs & Symptoms of Cataracts
At first, the cloudiness in your vision caused by a cataract may affect only a small part of the eye's lens and you may be unaware of any vision loss. As the cataract grows larger, it clouds more of your lens and distorts the light passing through the lens. This may lead to more noticeable symptoms.
That's why it’s important to know what you should be on the lookout for from day one. Here are a few early signs of cataracts to look out for:
- Clouded, blurred or dim vision
- Increasing difficulty with vision at night
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Need for brighter light for reading and other activities
- Seeing "halos" around lights
- Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
- Fading or yellowing of colors
- Double vision in a single eye
Most cataracts develop when aging or injury changes the tissue that makes up the eye's lens. Proteins and fibers in the lens begin to break down, causing vision to become hazy or cloudy. Some inherited genetic disorders that cause other health problems can increase your risk of cataracts. Cataracts can also be caused by other eye conditions, past eye surgery or medical conditions such as diabetes. Long-term use of steroid medications, too, can cause cataracts to develop. (Again, Step #1 should ALWAYS be to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your eyeballs!)
How to Prevent Cataracts:
Have regular eye examinations
Scheduling (and showing up for) regular eye examinations is the absolute best way to prevent cataracts. Early detection is CRITICAL to eye issues that damage your vision, and little things that might not seem like much to you while you're getting ready in the morning could be huge, waving red flags to your eye doctor. Eye examinations can help detect cataracts and other potential eye problems before they're permanent, giving your vision the best chance of recovering completely.
Quit smoking and reduce alcohol use
Medications, smoking, and alcohol can increase the risk of cataracts. Talk to your doctor before you switch up any meds, but it's always a good idea to stop smoking and curb your alcohol intake.
Manage other health problems
Health issues including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and an unbalanced diet can increase your risk of cataracts. Try incorporating a healthy diet, add more exercise to your day and seek our medical help for health concerns.
No, seriously! We're not just saying this because we're a sunglasses brand, but wearing the proper eye protection can reduce the impact of harmful light, debris, and other eye-pokers that cause long term vision issues. In particular, ultraviolet light from the sun may contribute to the development of cataracts. Be sure to wear sunglasses such as the BOOGIE frames, which come with 100% UVA and UVB protection. (Pro Tip: ALL Bomber sunglasses come with 100% UVA and UVB protection -- look for the label on our online listings!)
In extreme cases, cataracts may lead to needing surgery, so be sure to protect your eyes and treat them as well as you treat the rest of your body. As always, make sure you check in with your doctor if you're even slightly worried about vision issues. The sooner an eye issue is treated, the less likely it is to cause permanent damage or vision loss. And while you're thinking about eye protection, stock up on Bomber Eyewear's ANSI Z87+ certified safety glasses, the best way to prevent long-lasting eye issues on the job or anywhere you go.