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A cataract is an eye condition where the normally clear lens becomes clouded, obscuring vision. Cataracts are associated with aging but may have other causes. In fact, the National Eye Institute says that more than half of all Americans will have a cataract or have had cataract surgery by the time they reach age 80.
The lens focuses light and images on the retina, a light-sensitive layer of tissue located at the back of your eye. Light passes through the transparent lens and onto the retina, which transforms the light into nerve signals to be sent to your brain. The lens must be clear in order to produce a focused image; clouding caused by cataracts results in blurred images.
Cataracts can affect one or both eyes. Cataracts do not spread from one eye to the other, and are not infectious between people. While most cataracts relate to aging, a baby may be born with cataracts.
Injury, surgery or illness may cause cataracts. Cataracts may form after surgery for glaucoma, a group of diseases that affect the optic nerve in the eye. Cataracts may develop in people with other types of illnesses, such as diabetes. Exposure to radiation or long-term use of steroids may also cause cataracts.
The lenses of your eyes are made mostly of water and protein. In a healthy eye, the protein is arranged in a precise way that allows maximum light to pass through the lens. The protein arrangement keeps the lens clear and functional. As you age, however, protein clumps together to cause a cloudy area on your lens – this is glaucoma.
The clumps of protein interfere with the way light passes through the lens and reduce the sharpness of the image. Vision grows worse as the cloudy areas enlarge slowly over time. Your lens may turn a yellowish-brown and cloud your vision with a brown hue.
The optometrists at Advanced Eyecare Center have the expertise and training needed to accurately diagnose and treat your cataracts. We will perform a comprehensive eye exam including a visual acuity test with a standard eye chart, a dilated eye exam, and tonometry. Visual acuity measures how well you see at various distances. We perform a dilated eye exam using drops that widen your pupil, which allows our optometrists to examine your retina and optic nerve. At Advanced Eyecare Center, we also perform tonometry to measure the pressure inside your eye.
At Advanced Eyecare Center, we also provide safe and effective treatments for cataracts. We can prescribe eyeglasses to improve your vision if your cataracts are in the earliest stages; magnifying glasses, sunglasses and improved lighting also help. After cataracts have grown significantly, surgery to replace the cloudy lens is the only solution.
Make an appointment with Advanced Eyecare Center today to schedule an eye exam at one of our offices located in Redondo Beach or Manhattan Beach.