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What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Cataracts?

What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Cataracts?

Jun. 12th, 2023

What Are Cataracts?

A cataract is a cloudy part on the lens of the eye. The lens of your eye is the clear part that helps the eye curve light and focus it so that way the retina can create clear images.

Cataracts are estimated to affect 24.4 million Americans age 40 or older. By age 75, approximately half of all Americans will have experienced cataracts.1

Cataracts can begin with small signs and develop in a way that impairs your vision over time. The good news is that there are many surgeries and treatments available to help those who have cataracts.

Cataract Types

There are 3 different types of cataracts:

  1. Nuclear Sclerotic Cataracts: The nuclear sclerotic cataract begins its development at the nucleus of the eye and grows over time. As a nuclear sclerotic cataract progresses, it can cause nearsightedness, and it also causes the colors that you see to fade. This is the most common type of cataract.2,3
  2. Cortical Cataracts. These cataracts begin at the edges of the lenses and make their way toward the middle of the eye. As the condition worsens, the light that enters the eye will become hazy. These types of cataracts can progress slowly or happen rapidly.4
  3. Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts. This type of cataract is common in those who have diabetes, extreme nearsightedness, or use steroids. Posterior subcapsular cataracts affects your night vision as well as your ability to read. It usually develops over the course of months.2

What Are the Signs of Cataracts?

Cataracts can happen to anyone and can drastically change your eyesight. You might be wondering, what does vision look like with cataracts?

 Some signs that you might have cataracts include:5,6

  • Blurred vision
  • Clouded vision
  • Dim vision
  • Sensitivity to light/glare
  • Seeing “halos” around lights
  • Needing bright light for reading and other activities
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Frequent changes in prescriptions
  • Faded/yellow colors
  • Double vision in an eye

At first, your vision changes may be small. However, as the cataract grows, you’ll notice more and more changes to your vision.

If you believe that you might have cataracts, visit your doctor for a professional diagnosis. It’s important to note that some of these symptoms are side effects of other vision problems as well.

What Are the Risk Factors for Cataracts?

There are several risk factors for those who commonly develop cataracts, including:7

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Past eye injury
  • Eye surgery
  • Steroids

How to Prevent Cataracts

There is no evidence or studies that show how cataracts can be prevented. However, living a healthy lifestyle can help minimize your chances and help you catch early warning signs.

Some cataract prevention steps you can take include:

  • Receive regular eye examinations. Eye exams can help your doctor detect changes to your eyesight and allow them to find early signs of cataracts. Usually, you should have an eye exam once a year, but your doctor may instruct you to come more often if they detect changes in your vision.
  • Quit smoking. People who smoke cigarettes are 2-3 times more likely to get cataracts than those who don’t. If you are in the habit of smoking, reach out to a medical professional for advice on how to stop.8
  • Eat a balanced diet. Some studies show that vitamins such as C and E contribute to our eye health. Eating a balanced diet with many fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of cataracts.9
  • Keep your blood sugar stable. The lens in your eyes will swell if your blood sugar stays high for too long. Your lens will also change blood sugar into sorbital, which can collect in your eye and form a cataract.9
  • Wear sunglasses. If your eyes are consistently exposed to the sun and its UV rays, then they may develop cataracts. Wear sunglasses on a sunny day to help protect your eyes from the sun.
  • Wear protective gear. When you go swimming or work with harmful chemicals, then you want to wear proper protective eye equipment. This can help shield your eyes from harmful chemicals and substances that can damage them and contribute to cataract formation.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol is shown to affect the nerves in the eye and can contribute to cataracts and macular degeneration. Avoid drinking alcohol in large quantities.10
  • Manage health problems. If you have a health problem, such as diabetes, that increases your chances of getting cataracts, try to manage it to protect your eyes from cataracts. Follow all of your doctor’s instructions for caring for your body and taking medications.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Cataracts?

A doctor will ask you questions about your vision and look at your previous medical history, as well as give you an eye exam.

This eye exam will usually consist of 4 parts:

  • The visual acuity test. This is a test where the patient will read a series of letters. The letters will get progressively smaller during the test. Each eye is covered as the patient performs the test.
  • Slit-lamp examination. The doctor will use a microscope called a slit lamp to inspect a patient’s cornea, iris, lens, and the space between the iris and cornea. The doctor looks for changes or abnormalities in the eyes during this test.
  • Retinal exam. The doctor will dilate the eyes to inspect them, specifically the retina. They will check for cataracts during this test.
  • Applanation tonometry. This test measures the fluid pressures in your eyes.

What Are the Treatment Options for Cataracts?

Cataracts are usually treated with surgery. Usually, a doctor will recommend eye surgery when the cataracts impact your quality of life. Some signs that surgery may be suggested is if you have difficulty performing tasks or if your vision becomes too distorted.

However, if you choose to not get surgery, your doctor will follow up with regular eye exams to check the condition of the eyes. Delaying the surgery usually does not have an impact on how well your eyes recover in the future.

Do you think you might have cataracts?

Now that you know some cataract causes and how vision with cataracts looks, you can work to live a healthy lifestyle that minimizes your risk for cataracts. If you think that you or a loved one may have cataracts, contact a medical professional.

About Saber Healthcare Group

Saber Healthcare is an organization that provides services to more than 115 buildings across the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Delaware, and Florida. To learn more about our company and services, click here.

Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.


  1. “Eye Health Statistics.” American Academy of Ophthalmology. Accessed 8 June 2023. Link:,of%20all%20Americans%20have%20cataracts.
  2. “Understanding the 3 Different Types of Cataracts.” Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun and The Campbell Cunningham Laser Center. 10 September 2019. Accessed 8 June 2023. Link:
  3. Baartman, Brandon. “Cataract.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, Eyewiki. 8 May 2023. Accessed 8 June 2023. Link:,Common%20Types%20of%20Cataracts,Cortical%20and%20Posterior%20Subcapsular%20Cataracts.
  4. “Cortical Cataract.” Drargwals. Accessed 8 May 2023. Link:
  5. “Cataracts.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 13 September 2022. Accessed 8 June 2023. Link:
  6. “Cataracts.” National Eye Institute. 13 January 2023. Accessed 8 June 2023. Link:
  7. “Cataract Risk Factors.” Stanford Medicine. Accessed 8 June 2023. Link:
  8. “How Smoking Can Contribute to Vision Loss and Blindness.” S. Food and Drug Administration. 26 June 2022. Accessed 8 June 2023. Link:,Can%20Smoking%20Cause%20Cataracts%3F,people%20who%20don't%20smoke.&text=A%20cataract%20is%20the%20clouding,lens%2C%20which%20is%20normally%20clear.
  9. Seltman, Whitney. “How Can I Prevent Cataracts?.” WebMD. Accessed 8 June 2023. Link:
  10. “Does alcohol affect cataracts?” SpaMedica. Accessed 8 June 2023. Link:,more%20likely%20to%20develop%20cataracts.