Typically, when most people hear the term cataracts, they think about a condition that affects older people. It is true that cataracts are usually found in senior citizens, but in reality, they can develop in people at any age.
Newborns can even be born with cataracts. Keep reading to learn if you can get cataracts in your thirties!
What Are Cataracts?
Cataracts form in the lens of your eye, which is a thick piece of tissue just behind your pupil. A healthy lens is supposed to be clear so that light can pass through uninterrupted.
However, as cataracts form, the light is gradually muddied and blocked. The cataract itself is made up of proteins that naturally occur in the lens.
These proteins are arranged in a way that light can pass through them with ease. As the proteins break down, they begin to form clumps.
Over time, the clumps grow bigger and more noticeable.
What Causes Cataracts?
In most cases, cataracts are simply caused by age. As we get older, some parts of our bodies just don’t work the way they used to.
For cataracts, this process typically begins around the age of forty. You can put yourself at higher risk of early cataract development through lifestyle choices.
Smoking and excessive drinking are known to be harmful to your vision, including triggering cataract development. Uncontrolled diabetes can also put you in danger of developing cataracts.
Overexposure to sunlight can also cause cataracts, as well as other vision problems. Some things may be out of your control.
For example, if you need to take certain steroid medications, you may be putting yourself at risk of developing cataracts. Genetics also affect cataract risk, there seems to be a strong association with family history.
At the end of the day, cataracts are a natural process that everyone goes through eventually. Fortunately, treating cataracts is fast and effective.
How Are Cataracts Treated?
Cataracts usually do not need to be treated immediately after diagnosis. A skilled ophthalmologist can spot them long before they become a problem.
Cataracts grow so slowly most people can live for years without having vision problems. Even if you are in your thirties and developing cataracts, you may not need treatment for many years.
When you do eventually need treatment, cataracts are treated with cataract surgery. However, the process is more complicated than removing the cataract from your lens.
This would be impossible, since the cataract exists within the lens itself. Instead, the entire lens is removed.
You cannot see without a lens. After your natural lens is removed during cataract surgery, it is replaced.
The replacement lens is called an IOL. It is made of acrylic or silicone, and more advanced versions can replicate normal vision or even improve your vision.
If you think you are at risk of developing cataracts, it is especially important to receive regular eye checkups. Staying informed can help you plan out when the best time for treatment will be.
Are you experiencing vision change? Schedule an exam at Frantz EyeCare in Fort Myers, FL, today!