As we humans age, systems start to wear down. Sometimes with a little help from the surgeon the ravages of the years can be reversed. Such is the case with cataracts.

Normal vision requires many areas to work: the brain, which acts as a command and interpretative center, the nerves to and from the eye which are in a very real sense info cables; and of course the eye itself. One part of the eye which is essential to clear vision is the lens. Normally this structure allows light to flow unimpeded to the pupils which either become larger to increase the amount of light in darkness or become smaller when it’s bright.

If the lens are clouded then then amount and quality of light which enters the eye are downgraded. The result is that vision is impaired, especially at night where there isn’t much light to go around. If a bright light occurs at night (ie a headlight from an oncoming vehicle) hits this lens the light will be scattered, causing further difficulties for the cataract sufferer.

What causes cataracts?  Years and years of use, especially during daytime and at higher altitudes where the ultraviolet exposure is the greatest. Ultraviolet light, which is not directly visible causes damage to the lens. Over time the damaged lens will develop cataracts. Certain medications such as glaucoma and some injuries to the eye can also predispose to cataracts.

It makes sense therefore to avoid ultraviolet exposure. Always wear sunglasses with good ultraviolet protection when spending time outdoors. Since sunglasses reduce the amount of light which reaches the eye, the pupil will dilate and let even more light and of course ultraviolet light in as well. Tanning booths, besides doing some serious damage to your skin and increasing your risk of skin cancer, can also cause cataracts, unless the eyes are carefully shielded.

Surgery involves removal of the lens, with an artificial lens placed by the eye surgeon. The procedure is done very frequently, especially in parts of the country where people spend a lot of time outdoors. As with any surgery there are risks, but in the hands of an experienced, competent surgeon these risks are small.

If you have trouble seeing, especially at night or experience scattering light with bright lights, you may have cataracts. A trip to the eye doctor would be worth your time. If not, then use your sunglasses diligently, and avoid tanning booths.

Aging may be unavoidable , but cataracts or at the least the age you develop them might not be.