Cataract Awareness

What are Cataracts?

Cataracts develop when the natural lens in our eyes that allows us to see becomes cloudy. Cataracts are most likely to form gradually and are typically a result of aging.

What are the Signs You May Have Cataracts?

Some of the signs you may have cataracts include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Vision seems to have faded in color to a dull yellow

What are the Risk Factors Associated with Cataracts?

There are many factors that may increase a person’s risk of getting cataracts, including:

  • Age (the most common cause; most people start getting cataracts around age 40 but won’t notice symptoms until after age 60)
  • Family history (cataracts can be hereditary)
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Gender (women are at an increased risk of developing cataracts due to the many hormonal changes they experience such as pregnancy, taking birth control pills, and menopause)
  • History of one or more eye injuries
  • Prolonged periods of time in the sun and/or eye exposure to radiation
  • Certain medications such as corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory medicines)¹

How to Diagnose Cataracts?

To be diagnosed with cataracts, you must see your optometrist or ophthalmologist who will perform a comprehensive eye examination. This thorough examination includes a slit-lamp exam (helps see abnormalities in cornea, iris, or lens), retinal exam (examines the back of the eye to see retina), and refraction and visual acuity test (eye chart exam) that help properly diagnose cataracts¹.

How do You Treat Cataracts?

If symptoms are not too serious and seem to be manageable, removal of the cataract(s) may not be necessary. If this is the case, you may need a different prescription of glasses to help you see better. More severe cases may require surgery to remove the cataract(s). This procedure usually takes about 15-20 minutes and about 95% of people say they see better afterwards². However, in some cases, it is possible to experience some blurriness after the cataract has been removed which can be treated with a minor procedure.

Overall, while there are many factors that can trigger cataracts, it is certain that age increases your risk of developing them. That is why it is crucial for people to see an eye doctor at least every one to two years before the age of 50, and then at least once every year after the age of 50². If you are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above, schedule an appointment with your optometrist or ophthalmologist to check for cataracts today.

To find a list of eye care providers near you, you can use our NVA Eye Care Provider Search Tool on the Member Portal or the NVA Vision Benefits Mobile App.

Want to learn more?  Here are some helpful video resources to help you better understand Cataracts: