According to the Canadian National Institute of the Blind, over 2.5 million Canadians have cataracts in some way, shape, or form. Along with glaucoma, it is one of the primary, preventable causes of vision loss in Canada.
Cataracts develop as the lens in the eye ages, as the crystalline materials that make up the lens begin to break down and harden. As the lens hardens, it can become cloudy and opaque, preventing light from passing through to the retina. It is most common in adults aged 60 or greater, however cataracts can form at any age, especially if the eye has experienced infection, trauma, or prolonged exposure to UV rays. If a child is born with cataracts, it is a condition known as a congenital cataract.
Treatment for cataracts is extremely effective, and most commonly includes eye surgery to remove the damaged lens from the eye, and inserting an artificial lens shaped to your eyes. The surgery is one of the most common, and most perfected, eye surgeries performed in Canada. Most patients comment on vastly improved vision after such a surgery. Prevention of premature cataracts can be assisted with removal of bad habits such as smoking, eating foods rich in, or taking supplementary vitamins containing antioxidants, and protecting your eyes from UV rays with polarized sunglasses.