Cataracts are well known and studied due to their frequency and relatively standard treatments.
There are three main types of cataracts in adults:
- Cortical cataracts – White opaque spots begin forming in your peripheral vision. Appearing in the lens first, they tend to look like bike spokes in how they ring the eye’s lens. These occur in the lens cortex, which is the part of the lens that surrounds the nucleus.
- Subcapsular cataracts – These are a greater risk for people with diabetes, or people taking higher doses of steroid medications. Subcapsular cataracts often impact your ability to read, impairing bright lights, and creating other visual distortions around light sources in low-light settings.
- Nuclear cataracts – These form in the nucleus of the lens. Over time, a nuclear cataract may turn yellow or brown and become increasingly opaque. In addition to impacting vision, nuclear cataracts often make it more difficult to differentiate shades of colour.
While cataracts can form in only one eye, it is typical to see cataracts forming in both eyes simultaneously.
Cataracts form in the lens, behind your iris, scattering light that would normally be precisely focused on to the retina. When a cataract scatters the light, it creates visual impairments (cloudy or obstructed vision).
The causes of cataracts are primarily rooted in aging, though lifestyle choices (such as smoking, consumption of alcohol) have been shown to increase their prevalence.
Cataracts are best identified by their impact on your vision. Tell-tale signs of cataracts include:
- White, brown, or blurry spots that appear in your field of vision
- Difficulty discerning between certain shades of colour
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty with glare or halos around light sources, especially at night
During its initial onset, the vision impairment caused by cataracts may be corrected by using glasses or contact lenses. However, as the cataract progresses, surgery may become your only option in addressing it.
The response to surgery is quite positive, with 90% of those who receive it regaining very good vision (between 20/20 and 20/40).
If you think that you are beginning to develop cataracts, book an eye exam so that one of our Optometrists can properly diagnose you. We will provide you the best treatment options given the current state of your eyes and advise you on how to best move forward.