Cataract and Family History

cataract, family historyFor many aging Americans, the threat of cataracts is yet another health issue to keep on their radar.  Cataracts affect nearly 22 million Americans age 40 and older.  By age 80, more than half of all Americans have a cataract in one or both eyes (Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology).

A cataract is defined as a clouding of the lens of the eye and can develop in one or both eyes.  A normally clear lens allows light to pass through the back of the eye so that the patient can see well-defined images.  If a part of the lens becomes opaque, light does not pass through easily and the patient’s vision becomes blurry- similar to looking through a fogged-up window.  The “cloudier” the lens becomes, the worse the person’s vision will be.

We are all at a risk of developing cataracts due to aging, but one important risk factor to pay attention to is family history.  If you have close relatives who have had cataracts your chances of developing cataracts is higher than those with no family history.  You are also at an increased risk of cataracts if you have diabetes or smoke.  Other risk factors include: exposure to sunlight, serious eye injury or inflammation or prolonged use of steroids.

Common symptoms of a cataract are:

  • Blurred vision at distance or reading
  • Reduced vision at night
  • Glare or halos
  • Double vision
  • Loss of depth perception

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, a family history of cataracts or if you’re age 55 or older, contact your eye doctor to schedule an appointment.