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Cataracts – symptoms, causes, risk factors and different types

When you have a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eyes, then you have this condition which is known as cataracts. People who suffer from this condition are seeing through their cloudy lenses is a bit like they are looking through a fogged – up or frosty window. When you have clouded vision caused by this condition, then you can find difficulties with seeing the expression on a friend’s face, driving a car (especially at night) and read. In the most cases this condition is developing slowly which means that it is not disturbing you in your eyesight in the early stage. But as the time passes, this condition will interfere in your vision. At the first periods when you have cataract, then eyeglasses and stronger lighting can help you to deal with this condition. But if you have noticed that this condition makes problems in your daily activities, then you may need to make cataracts surgery. But people who are affected with this condition should not be afraid of surgery because this is effective and safe procedure. [1,2]

Symptoms and causes of cataracts


  • Double vision in a single eye
  • You will notice fading or yellowing of colors
  • You will notice frequent changes in the eyeglass or contact lens prescription
  • Seeing “halos” around lights
  • Need for brighter light for reading and other activities
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Increasing difficulty with vision at night
  • Clouded, blurred or dim vision

At the first stages of this condition, the cloudiness in your vision can affect small part of the eye’s lens and many times have happened that you are unaware of vision loss. As this condition grows larger, it is clouding more of your lens and it distorts the light that is passing through your lens. In this case this will lead to more noticeable symptoms. If you have noticed any change in your vision, then you should talk with your doctor. If you develop sudden vision change such as sudden headache, sudden eye pain, flashes of light or double vision, then you should talk with your doctor as soon as possible.

Causes: When the injury or aging is changing the tissue that makes up your eye’s lens, then develops cataracts. If you have some kind of health problem or some inherited genetic disorders, then this can lead to increased risk of getting cataract. [3] Medical condition such as diabetes or past eye surgery can lead to cataract. [4] If you use steroid medications in long period, then this can lead to cataracts.


Risk factors: Here are the factors that can increase your risk of getting cataracts:

  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol [5]
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
  • Previous eye surgery [1,2]
  • Previous eye injury or inflammation
  • High blood pressure [6]
  • Obesity [7]
  • Smoking [8]
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Diabetes [4]
  • Increasing age [1,2]

Types of cataracts

  • Congenital cataract (cataracts you are born with): There are some people who develop this condition during their childhood or they are born with it. This kind of cataracts can be genetic or it can be associated with trauma or an intrauterine infection. This type of cataracts does not always affect vision but it should be removed as soon as possible.
  • Posterior subcapsular cataract (cataracts that affect the back of the lens): This type of cataracts starts with small and opaque area which usually is forming near the back of your lens – right in the path of light. This type of cataracts causes glare or halos around the light, reduces your vision in bright light and often interferes with your reading vision.
  • Cortical cataract (cataracts that affect the edges of the lens): This type of cataracts begins with whitish and wedge shaped streaks or opacities on the outer edge of the lens cortex. This condition slowly progress and the streak extend to the center and it interferes with the light that is passing through your lens’s center.
  • Nuclear cataract (cataracts affecting the center of the lens): This type of cataract can cause you temporary improvement in your reading vision or it can cause more nearsightedness. But as the time passes, your lenses gradually turn more densely yellow and you will notice clouds in your vision. As this cataracts progresses, then your lens can even turn in brown.


[1] Wong TY. Effect of increasing age on cataract surgery outcomes in very elderly patients. BMJ. 2001;322(7294):1104–6.

[2] Mehmet B, Abuzer G. Results of cataract surgery in the very elderly population. Journal of Optometry. 2009;2(3):138-41.

[3] Hu WS, Lin CL, Chang SS, et al. Increased risk of ischemic heart disease among subjects with cataracts: A population-based cohort study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016;95(28):e4119.

[4] Pollreisz A, Schmidt-Erfurth U. Diabetic cataract – Pathogenesis, epidemiology and treatment. Journal of Ophthalmology (Special Issue: New Horizons in Research on Diabetic Complications of the Eye: Special Emphasis on Diabetic Cataracts and Retinopathy). 2010.

[5] Wang W, Zhang X. Alcohol intake and the risk of age-related cataracts: A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. PLoS One. 2014;9(9):e107820.

[6] Yu X, Lyu D, Dong X, et al. Hypertension and risk of cataract: A meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2014;9(12):e114012.

[7] Cheung N, Wong TY. Obesity and eye diseases. Survey of Ophthalmology. 2007;52(2):180–95.

[8] Lindblad BE, Håkansson N, Wolk A. Smoking cessation and the risk of cataract: A prospective cohort study of cataract extraction among men. JAMA Ophthalmology. 2014.

Merlin Joy
Merlin Joy
Holding a doctorate degree, Dr. Merlin Joy AKA Sinatra developed passion for home remedies from her mother, grand father and grandmother. Sinatra loves to read books and hiking. You can contact her through [email protected]


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