Traumatic Cataracts

Cataracts are a very common vision problem, with 22 million Americans over the age 40 affected. While most people associate cataracts with aging, one of the most overlooked causes of cataracts is eye trauma.

What are Cataracts?

Cataracts occur when protein builds up on the lens of the eye. Cataracts give the eye a distinctly “cloudy” appearance due to the level of cell buildup on the lens. With cataracts, new lens cells form on the outsides of the lens and old cells are pushed inward – resulting in a noticeable change in quality of vision. When the lens is clouded with old cells, it can be like much like looking through a dirty windshield.

How Can Trauma Cause Cataracts?

Blunt trauma to the eye can cause nasty effects on the lens and other parts of the eye. Normally, trauma can cause swelling, thickening, and whitening of the fibers that make up the lens. Over time, swelling will go down but the white color often remains. This whitening reduces the transmission of light and can very significantly reduce overall quality of vision. The development of traumatic cataracts can occur very quickly, or over several months.

Other types of traumatic cataracts can occur due to electrical injuries, heat injuries and high exposure to ultraviolet light. These particular conditions are sometimes known as “glassblowers’ cataracts”, and can be seen in many professions in which the eye endures intense heat and light.

How Can I Avoid Traumatic Cataracts?

While there’s no way to predict exactly when accidents are going to occur, it is possible to be proactive about eye safety. One of the best ways to encourage eye safety is to always wear the right eye protection in situations when an eye injury could occur. Every day, 2,000 US workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment – injuries that could easily be prevented with eye protection.

Surgery For Traumatic Cataracts

For regular cataracts that are brought on by age or simply due to genetics, treatment is usually relatively straightforward. Exciting advancements in cataract treatments have made synthetic lenses, known as Intraocular Lens Implants (IOLS), widely available to cataract patients. In fact, cataract surgery is so common that there are approximately two million cataract surgeries performed each year.

When cataracts are caused by trauma, the steps towards repairing the eye are less straightforward and treatment varies by injury and completed on a case-by-case basis. If you think you may have a traumatic cataract, contact Illinois Eye Center today to schedule an appointment and determine the best path of treatment for your needs.

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