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The lens of the eye(s) become covered with a cloudy appearance with cataracts and the ability to see gradually decreases. Cataracts affect sometimes affect just one eye, however, it can affect both eyes. Some of the symptoms can be blurry vision, problems seeing when there are very bright lights, colors begin fading, start seeing halos around lights, and vision problems at night. Resulting in having trouble with reading, recognizing faces, and driving. The things mentioned previously will often cause an individual to become depressed, and they are at more of a risk of falling. Cataracts make-up 33% of the world’s visual impairments, and they are also the cause of half of the world’s blindness.

The risk factors involved are smoking tobacco, diabetes, alcohol, and exposure to the sun for long periods of time or on a regular basis. They are more common in the aging, but can occur from trauma, be present at the time of birth, from exposure to radiation, and also after having surgery on the eye(s) for other conditions. There is an underlying mechanism which the accumulation of clumps or clusters containing protein or a yellowish-brown pigment that’s embedded within the lens and then causes a decrease in the light’s transmission, going to the retina (located at the back of the eye or eyes). An eye examination is necessary for this type of diagnosis.

The only prevention known is to wear sun gear when going to be out in the sun for long periods of time and not to start smoking or if you do smoke, quit now! It is possible in the early stages to see an improvement from wearing eyeglasses. However, in cases where this did not make any improvements of the condition, surgery was necessary for the removal of the cloudy lens and replacing it with a fitted artificial lens was the only means found to be an effective treatment. Surgery is only performed to improve one’s quality of life and if they are creating problems.

There are around twenty million people that have been blinded due to cataracts. With 5% of those being in the United States and almost 60% are in various regions of Africa and South America. In the developing countries, for every 100,000 children there will be 10 to 40 of them that become blind. That in comparison to countries that are already developed being for every 100,000 children, anywhere from1 to 4 of them will become blind. In the United States, over half of the people will have cataracts before they reach the age of 80 years of age and it is becoming more and more common as we are aging.

There are variations of the signs and symptoms, which depends on the type one has. A sign/symptom for someone that has brunescent or nuclear sclerotic will often notice a decrease in their vision. However, those that have the posterior subcapsular type will often complain of having a glare. If there are not any other diseases present in the eye(s) then the formations severity in the cataract will be primarily decided with a visual acuity test. Some more symptoms can include having colored halos, which comes from the lens being hydrated and a need to change eyeglasses often.

The following are some of the causes of cataracts: Age is one of the causes of cataracts and it is the most common of all the different causes. The lens proteins denature will begin to degrade after a period of time, and diseases like hypertension and diabetes mellitus accelerate this process. There are also environmental factors to take into consideration, such as toxins, ultraviolet lights, and radiation, all of which have effects that are cumulative, and the results are repeated effects that make each effect more pronounced, also, since they are already losing their means of protection, and mechanisms needed and no longer have the ability for restoration of the chemical process as an alteration for the genes expression.

The lens fibers can be made to swell, thicken, and have a white colored discoloration from a blunt trauma. And time usually resolves the swelling issue, however, the white discoloration could remain. The eye(s) sits in what is called a capsule that can be damaged if the eye(s) are penetrated or if the eye(s) have a severe blunt trauma. These kinds of damages make it possible for fluid to quickly enter into the eye(s) from other body parts and create a whitening and make it swell, causing light to be obstructed, whereas, it cannot make it to the back of the eye where the retina is located. It is a fact that 0.7 to 8.0 % of all cases involving electrical injuries, cataracts have later occurred.

There are a variety of different types of radiation exposure and cataracts can be caused by some of them. Such as x-rays, which is a form of ionizing radiation that can cause damage to the DNA of those particular lens cells. It has been shown in the past that ultraviolet lights, UVB specifically causes cataracts, with it also shown that starting out protecting the eye(s) at a young age may benefit in slowing down the progression of development as age approaches. A non-ionized radiation such as microwaves can be harmful through denaturing protective enzymes, as glutathione peroxidase, and through oxidizing the different protein thiol groups, which will cause it to have a protein aggregation or through the damaging of the lens cells by way of a thermoelastic expansion. Heat injuries and electric injuries causes a coagulation of the proteins which makes the lens turn a white color. It is the exact process that turns the clear albumen in the egg to a color of white while cooking.