What Are Cataracts? - SightMD Skip to main content

November 03, 2022

By: Catherine Furey, MD

What Are Cataracts?

older mans eye with a cataract

While most people have heard the word “cataracts,” they may not know exactly what they are.

Actually, the term for this condition is often referred to in singular form: cataract. As defined by the American Academy of Ophthalmology®, when proteins in the natural lens break down, a cataract develops. The lens becomes cloudy. Symptoms of having a cataract include blurry vision, seeing double, and colors looking faded. Additionally, vision becomes especially sensitive to light, and the ability to see clearly at night is diminished.

SightMD offers this primer about cataracts as well as the causes and treatments.

What are the causes of cataracts?

There are a number of factors that contribute to whether or not a person might develop cataracts, with the natural aging process as the most common cause. People over the age of 60 may notice a clouding of their lenses, although serious problems with sight may not occur until they are older. Additionally, cataracts may even be genetic, as those who are diagnosed often have relatives with this condition. Other circumstances that are connected to the possibility of a person developing cataracts include medical conditions such as diabetes, failure to wear sunglasses when outside in the sun, other eye-related problems, and smoking.

Is there a cure for cataracts?

Outside of elective surgery, there is no definitive cure for cataracts, although there are steps that can be taken to slow the progression of this condition. Remembering to wear sunglasses when spending time outdoors (see above) is one way, as this will protect the eyes from the ultraviolet (UV) light rays of the sun. Selecting eyeglasses that have an anti-UV coating may also prove beneficial in delaying cataracts.

What lifestyle adjustments come with Cataracts?

Being diagnosed with cataracts will require certain lifestyle adjustments in order to see as best as possible. People who are aged 65 or older should make it a point to keep up with their yearly eye exams. Installing brighter lights at home and work will help with reading and other activities. Monitoring other health-related conditions is also important, as they may be connected to the cataracts. Finally, if the cataracts become severe, surgery is the last option to pursue.

If you have further questions or concerns about cataracts—for yourself or a loved one—contact SightMD for answers. Our ophthalmologists, optometrists, and other eye care professionals are here to help. If you wish to schedule an appointment for an eye exam, find a location that’s convenient for you.