Early cataract diagnosis?

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Changes in your vision in your 40s, 50s and 60s may be the onset of early cataract formation.

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The initial diagnosis of cataracts often comes as a surprise to most individuals. A typical scenario is one in which an individual begins to notice gradual or slight blurring and clouding of vision under certain lighting conditions or for certain tasks. As the symptoms persist or become more pronounced, it usually prompts an appointment with an eye care professional for what is expected to be a new prescription.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye lens due to gradual opacification of lens epithelial fibers, resulting in blurred vision and loss of best corrected visual acuity. The most common cause of cataracts is the aging process, but cataract formation is also associated with a number of other conditions including the use of certain medications, previous trauma, prolonged ultraviolet exposure, and systemic diseases such as diabetes.

Oxidative injury to lens epithelial cells appears to be an important underlying pathophysiologic factor in nearly all types of cataract formation and progression. Oxidative damage to lens epithelial cells causes a progressive clouding of lens epithelial proteins, reduced transparency of the lens, and subsequent loss of vision.

When the examination reveals the onset of cataracts, common responses are, “I thought cataracts were only something my grandparents would get!” Or, “Aren’t I too young for cataracts?” Or, “How did I get cataracts?” Cataracts can develop and cause symptoms of blurred vision at any age. In many situations no underlying cause can be identified; cataracts develop from multiple factors: genetic predisposition, environmental exposure and the aging process. It is not uncommon for cataracts to begin to develop in persons in their sixties, fifties, and even in their forties.