BrightStar Care ~ Diagnosing Cataracts

This month, we’re focusing on Eye Health and honing in on cataracts. According to Prevent Blindness America’s Vision Problems in the U.S. report, more than 24 million Americans age 40 and older have cataracts. By age 80, more than half of all Americans will have cataracts. Every year in the U.S., more than one million cataract surgeries are performed. Cataract surgeries are performed without complication in 95 percent of cases.
Why do cataracts form?
Cataract is probably caused by changes related to aging. Throughout our lives, our bodies replace old cells with new ones. As we grow older, the old cells in our eye’s lens build up and block light as it tries to pass through. The end result is cloudy vision. Besides getting older, other factors may cause cataract to form. Eye infections, some medicines (such as steroids), injuries or exposure to intense heat or radiation may cause cataract. Too much exposure to non-visible sunlight (called UV or ultraviolet light) and various diseases, such as diabetes or metabolic disorders, may also contribute to cataracts.
What are the types of cataract?
Age-related: 95 of cataract are age-related, usually after age 40.
Congential: These are present at birth, usually caused by infection or inflammation during pregnancy, possibly inherited.
Traumatic: Lens damage from a hard blow, cut, puncture, intense heat or chemical burn may cause cataract.
Secondary: Some medicines, eye disease, eye infection, or diseases cause these cataracts.
How can the eye doctor tell if I have cataracts?
Everyone who gets cataracts experiences it differently. But a person with cataracts commonly experiences cloudy or blurry vision. Lights may cause a glare, seem too dim or seem too bright. It may be hard to read or drive, especially at night. If you have cataracts, you may see halos around lights, such as car headlights, that make it hard to focus clearly. Colors may not seem as bright as they used to be. Or you may have to change your eyeglass prescription often. To find out if you have cataracts, your eye doctor will want to:
  • Find out your general medical history
  • Test your vision (visual acuity)
  • Test your side vision (peripheral vision)
  • Test your eye movement
  • Test you for glaucoma
  • Do a microscopic exam of the front of the eye to assess  the density of the cataract and how it interferes with light passing through the lens
  • Widen the pupils of your eyes to examine the retina, the optic nerve and the macula
  • Test you to see how glare affects your vision