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You may have seen people with cataracts; it looks as if their normally clear eyeball has a cloudy white circle covering the center. In simple terms, cataracts are a condition of clouding in the lens of the eye.

People with cataracts experience blurry or dim eyesight, sensitivity to light, difficulty seeing at night, or the tendency to see halos around lights. They may need to change their eyeglass prescription frequently, or they may experience colors being less vivid. Some people with cataracts have double vision, others feel partially blind, and those who don’t get treated right away may become completely blind.

If Your Eyes Are Blurry, Does That Mean You Are Developing Cataracts?

Just because you have experienced the above symptoms or know you have a cataract developing does not mean you will permanently lose your eyesight. However, it does mean that you should get your eyes routinely checked and consider cataract surgery. The procedure is quite common, safe and effective. In fact, in the United States alone, some 3 million Americans have cataract surgeries every year.

cataract risk factors

Risk Factors for Developing Cataracts

But how do you know whether you may be at risk of developing cataracts? Here are eight things to watch out for:

1. If You Experience Loss of Vision and Are Over 40 Years Old

Old age is one of the most common reasons for developing cataracts. About half of all Americans over 80 will have had cataract surgery. But you can develop eye clouding as young as 40 or 50.

2. If You Are Suffering From High Blood Sugar or Diabetes

When you have unusually high blood sugar levels, you may be at risk of developing cataracts. It’s a good idea to keep your diet healthy, so consume foods and drinks with little sugar content. Do keep your sugar intake in check if you feel your vision getting continually blurred.

3. If You Are Often Exposed to Sunlight for Excessive Hours

Protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays by wearing sunglasses outside. Make sure that the sunglasses you buy have UV protection lenses. For the best type of protection, purchase sunglasses that wrap around your face, to keep out damaging rays.

4. If You Have a Family History of Cataracts

Congenital cataracts are known to be responsible for the blindness of 5 to 20 percent of blindness in infants around the world. When there is no family history of cataracts, a child may be suffering from other diseases. This may be a symptom that can lead doctors to uncovering other health problems.

5. If You Are a Heavy Smoker

Scientists believe that excessive smoking can lead to cataracts. While there is still more research needed for updated results, research conducted by the Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology showed that patients who smoked had a higher risk of developing cataracts than those who didn’t smoke.

6. If You Are Overweight

Obesity has many harsh medical consequences, but the less obvious or less known are loss of eyesight and other vision problems. These conditions are also diet related, which is why those who are health-conscious should take extra effort in making sure they eat right and exercise enough daily. Staying active and agile in your lifestyle will contribute to healthy and clear eyesight!

7. If You Have Had Any Kind of Eye Surgery

A cataract may develop as a side effect of previous eye surgery. Your eyes may also be weaker and more sensitive to light because of that surgery, and so clouding in the lens develops. That said, eye surgery is a relatively safe procedure. Just make sure you make an informed decision when choosing your ophthalmologist.

8. If You Have Been on Corticosteroid Medication for a Long Time

Heavy use of steroids or medication can contribute to cataracts, and steroid-induced cataracts can sometimes occur in both eyes simultaneously. For example, children who have been diagnosed with cancer and have been prescribed oral steroid medication sometimes develop cataracts as a side effect. However, cataracts can develop at any age. If you have been prescribed steroid medication, including eye drops, you must speak to your doctor about any side effects.

What Should You Do If You Are at Risk or Experience Any of the Symptoms Above?

Don’t panic! Cataracts are quite common in the United States, and surgery is a safe procedure. You should schedule an appointment with an eye specialist as soon as you notice any change in your vision. It also helps to stay informed about the symptoms, causes and treatments of cataracts.

If you decide to undergo cataract surgery, the doctor will replace your lens with a new, clear, intraocular one, and you will be enjoying near-perfect eyesight.

In fact, cataract surgery is one of the most often performed eye surgeries in the country, enabling people nationwide to enjoy better, clearer eyesight. The sooner you get your eyes checked, the better.

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