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What are cataracts?

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A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the normally clear lens of the eye. Depending upon its size and location, it can interfere with normal vision. Most cataracts develop in people over age 55, but they occasionally occur in infants and young children. Usually cataracts develop in both eyes, but one may be worse than the other.

The lens is located inside the eye behind the iris, the colored part of the eye. Normally, the lens focuses light on the retina, which sends the image through the optic nerve to the brain.

However, if the lens is clouded by a cataract, light is scattered so the lens can no longer focus it properly, causing vision problems. The lens is made of mostly proteins and water. Clouding of the lens occurs due to changes in the proteins and lens fibers.

Cataracts generally form very slowly. Signs and symptoms of a cataract may include:

  • Blurred or hazy vision
  • Reduced intensity of colors
  • Increased sensitivity to glare from lights, particularly when driving at night
  • Increased difficulty seeing at night
  • Change in the eye’s refractive error, or prescription

In age-related cataracts, changes in vision can be very gradual. Some people may not initially recognize the visual changes. However, as cataracts worsen, vision symptoms increase.

Wearing sunglasses and eating a diet high in anti-oxidants may reduce your risk of cataracts and keep your eyes healthy.

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Written by Mindy Blumberg

Dr. Mindy Blumberg is an optometrist registered with the BC College of Optometrists and is a member of the BC Doctors of Optometry. She graduated from the University of Waterloo and moved to Whistler, BC, to live in the mountains. Mindy grew up alpine ski racing and now has a special interest in sports vision. She helps with performance vision training with the Canadian Ski Cross and the BC Alpine Ski Team. Dr. Blumberg brings expertise on post-concussion vision rehabilitation and performance sports vision. She also uses these functional vision skills and vision therapy to improve reading and comprehension in children by enhancing the visual systems needed to have academic success.

Sea to Sky Optometry would like to acknowledge that we are operating our eye clinic on the unceded territory of Lil’wat Nation and want to thank the community for their support.

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