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What Causes Cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the clear lens that we are born with to focus our vision.  Cataracts normally form gradually over several years. This cloudiness is the result of changes in the lens protein decreasing the amount of light that reaches the retina.

When the cloudiness worsens, the lens will produce vision that is more and more blurry, causing a distortion in vision and colors, and left untreated it can lead to temporary blindness until removed.  That removal, however, can be much more difficult, risky, and take longer to recover from when the cataract is allowed to mature to severe levels.

Who gets cataracts

Cataracts can affect people of any age and have been found in infants, but tend to fully form in adults between the ages of 40 and 80 years old, with most forming in a patient’s sixth decade and beyond.  Although cataracts tends to be an age-related condition, there are health factors that may increase your chances of developing a cataract. Some of these factors are:

  • Certain diseases, such as diabetes
  • Lifestyle behaviors, such as smoking and alcohol abuse
  • Trauma to the eye
  • Prolonged exposure to sunlight
  • Congenital cataracts
  • Steroid use
  • Poor diet, lack of nutrition, or poor health
  • Fetal exposure to infection, radiation, steroids, alcohol, other abusive substances

Cataracts can also develop in people who have had previous eye injuries, inflammation in the eye, and in people who have had different eye diseases in the past.

Cataracts, globally, is the most common cause of blindness in people worldwide, accounting for over 50 percent of the world’s blindness population.

Symptoms of Cataracts

Due to cataracts developing slowly, their symptoms gradually worsen over time, and therefore sometimes are simply accepted as “normal.”  If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, visit an ophthalmologist who can examine your eye to determine whether you have a cataract. Some of the symptoms of cataracts are:

  • Cloudy or blurry vision for far or near
  • Needing more light to see
  • Double vision (diplopia) still noticeable if the other eye is closed
  • A sense that colors appear faded
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • An increased sensitivity to glare
  • A distortion of your vision

Additional symptoms to be aware of include:

  • Days seem too bright
  • Foggy vision
  • Needing new glasses or having to change them frequently
  • Night glare
  • Vision changes

Types of cataracts

There are several types of cataracts that can affect the quality of your vision. Some of the most common cataracts are:

  • Age-related cataracts (comprises most cataracts)
  • Congenital cataracts (found in babies and children)
  • Secondary cataracts (caused by previous diseases or illnesses)
  • Traumatic cataracts (occurs due to an injury to the eye)
  • Nuclear cataracts (impacts the center of the lens)
  • Cortical cataracts (impacts the edges of the lens)
  • Posterior subcapsular cataracts (impacts the back of the lens) and gives bad glare, seen in younger patients

Nuclear cataracts are the most common type of cataracts related to one’s age and they cause a yellow to brown cloudiness in the eye.  In their most severe end stage they turn white in color and can be seen as a white spot in a patient’s pupil   Cataracts should be removed by an ophthalmologist when the patient is unable see well enough to perform the activities that they wish to such as reading, driving, playing golf or other sports, etc.  We refer to these as “activities of daily living.”

Cortical cataracts resemble spokes on a wheel which point inwards towards the center of the lens. This cataract causes light to scatter when it hits the eyes. One of the rarest types of cataracts is the radiation cataract. Radiation cataracts can develop after exposure from UV rays.

Who to contact for your cataracts

If you are suffering from cataracts, or if you want to have your eyes examined to make sure that you do not have cataracts, the Eye Center of the Rockies can help you. We have a full time greatly experienced ophthalmologist who lives in our community with you who can diagnose and treat you.

We also have a veteran optometrist who has practiced for years in an ophthalmology and is used to seeing patients before and after surgery, and for all types of eye emergencies.

With locations in Eagle and Glenwood Springs, we can diagnose and remove your cataracts at our local hospitals and surgery centers. Contact us today or visit us at our Eagle and Glenwood Springs locations for more information.

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Our Locations

Glenwood Springs

1607 Grand Ave. Suite 31
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601



232 Broadway St
Eagle, CO 81631


970-930-1205, 970-930-1044, 970-930-1195, 970-456-1442, 970-930-1120, 970-989-2006, 970-989-2700, 970-930-1013, 970-947-0050