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Can You Prevent Cataracts?

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An older man struggling to see his phone due to blurry vision

Have you noticed lately that your prescription has been changing more frequently? Or, maybe, you’ve noticed your vision is getting slightly more blurry, or you have difficulty seeing at night. While these symptoms could be minimal, it may be a sign that you’re developing a cataract.

Cataracts are a normal part of the ageing process, but most cataracts develop slowly and don’t affect your eyesight until later on. Unfortunately, as you continue to age, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision. 

So what can you do if you suspect you have a cataract? During an eye exam, your optometrist can help determine the most suitable option for you. While there are no studies that have proven that cataracts can be delayed, there may be several strategies that can help you. Keep reading to learn more about cataracts, how we treat them at Henderson Vision Centre, and how to preserve your vision as you age. 

What are Cataracts? 

Cataracts occur when the normally clear lens in your eye becomes clouded over. Depending on the type and severity of your cataract, this clouding can range from small areas to large areas. How much your vision is affected depends on how much of your lens is clouded.

Cataracts happen to almost everyone as they age, and are typically diagnosed in those aged 60 and above. 

The Different Types of Cataracts  

Several different types of cataracts can affect your vision and eye health, including:  

  • Nuclear cataracts are the most common form of cataracts, causing clouding and hardening in the centre of your lens.
  • Cortical cataracts are cataracts that look like streaks on the edge of your lens, instead of the clouding that is seen with nuclear cataracts.
  • Posterior subcapsular cataracts are a type of cataract that develops on the back of the lens instead of the front. These types of cataracts tend to progress faster than others. 
  • Congenital cataracts are a rare type of cataract that are present at birth. 
  • Trauma-induced cataracts are cataracts that occur due to trauma. They can develop anywhere on the eye and typically develop a “flower-petal” shape. 

What Causes Cataracts?

Cataracts are a normal part of ageing. As you age, the lenses in your eyes become more rigid and thicker, which can cause the lenses to break down and clump together. This clumping is the reason the lens begins to cloud. With time, the clouding will become more dense as the cataract continues to develop. 

Additional Risk Factors 

While ageing is the main cause of cataracts, there are several factors that can put you at risk for developing cataracts earlier. These factors include:

A close-up image of a woman's eye with a cataract present

What Symptoms Should I Look Out For?

More often than not, cataracts don’t show symptoms right away. They typically develop slowly and you may not notice until a cataract has fully developed. 

In some cases you may notice symptoms such as: 

  • Cloudy or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light 
  • You see halos around lights
  • You have double vision
  • Your vision changes often 
  • Colours look different or appear faded 
  • Trouble seeing at night 

It’s hard to determine on your own if your symptoms are the result of cataracts. No matter which symptoms you’re experiencing, it’s important to see your optometrist for a proper eye exam. Only your optometrist can assess the root cause of your symptoms and get you the treatment you need.

Can I Prevent Cataracts?

Unfortunately, cataracts can not be entirely prevented, but there are steps you can take that may slow their progression. 

Maintain a Regular Eye Exam Schedule

Eye exams are an important part of keeping yourself healthy. An eye exam can help detect not only cataracts, but a variety of other health-threatening diseases. A lot of eye diseases require treatment as soon as possible, so it’s vital to make sure you’re seeing your optometrist on a regular basis. 

Protect Your Eyes from the Sun 

Ultraviolet B light, or UVB, can contribute to the development of cataracts. To protect your vision, wear sunglasses when in the sunlight.

Quit Smoking & Limit Alcohol Use

People who smoke or drink alcohol on a regular basis are at a higher risk for developing cataracts. To protect your eyes, ask your doctor for suggestions about how to stop smoking or drinking.

Manage Other Health Problems

Other health problems can affect your vision and eye health. If you’ve been prescribed medication or treatment for another health condition, make sure to adhere to your doctor’s orders.

Choose a Healthy Diet 

A healthy, well-rounded diet ensures that you’re getting all the vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants your eyes need to stay healthy. To protect your eyes, maintain a proper diet with a focus on whole foods. 

We’re Here to Help

Still have questions about cataracts? Our team is always here to help! Get in touch with Henderson Vision Centre today.

Written by Dr. Melina Chow

Dr. Chow received her Doctor of Optometry from the University of Waterloo in 2005. She has been an integral part of the Henderson Vision team for over 15 years, moving back to her hometown immediately upon graduating from university. When she isn’t at the clinic, Dr. Chow runs circles trying to keep up with her two energetic boys. Once she’s had enough cardio, she enjoys baking and planning her next vacation.
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