Cataracts: Driving with a dirty windshield

catIf you’ve driven a car with a dirty windshield towards the setting sun, you can imagine what it feels like to have a cataract in your eye.

“A cataract is any opacity in the human lens of the eye, and if the opacity becomes significant enough, it will block, smudge, or smear light that comes into the eye,” says Samuel Fulcher, MD, senior staff  for the Scott & White Eye Institute.

This blockage or smudge will then reduce your vision or cause an intolerable glare.

Cataracts can occur for a number of reasons, and they are often seen in older patients around age 60. However, cataracts can also impact younger adults or others who may be at risk.

You may develop a cataract at a younger age due to:

  • Hereditary factors
  • Prior trauma to the eye
  • Lifestyle choices such as smoking, or poor dietary habits

“Some cataracts are not preventable, but avoidance of smoking and excellent dietary habits including plenty of fruits, whole grains, and vegetables is important not only in cataract prevention and delay, but for general health measures such as blood pressure as well,” says Dr. Fulcher.

Benefits of Cataract Surgery


If you’ve had trouble with your vision, you may want to see your doctor. Your provider can recommend treatment options to help you see more clearly.

“Whether a patient is young or old, the role of the physician in helping patients to feel at ease is paramount in the patient physician relationship,” says Dr. Fulcher.

As you talk with your doctor, he may recommend cataract surgery. He will look at your symptoms, the impact the surgery will have on your life, the assurance of your ability to manage the difficulties, and the hope and likelihood for a good outcome. When all these factors are considered, if the prognosis looks positive, you may be a candidate for cataract surgery.

“The primary benefit of cataract surgery in any adult, young or old, is restoration of function which was limited by the visual difficulty,” explains Dr. Fulcher.

A Time to Reflect

Dr. Fulcher explains that because cataracts reduce your vision and impairs your ability to see, it is serious. However, thankfully he also says they are treatable with super outcomes in the vast majority of cases.

“Problems with cataracts can be a time for the patient to review his/her lifestyle to determine if there are changes that need to be made to prevent further health issues in the future,” he says.

Although having cataracts can be a wakeup call in some cases—don’t be alarmed. Your provider will care for you and make sure your new windshield is sparkling and clean in no time. But let’s be honest, it’s not just a windshield, it’s your eyes.

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About the author

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I contribute content and skills as a freelance writer for Baylor Scott & White Health. I enjoy improving our connection with our readers, patients and communities by assisting with a wide range of writing projects.

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Cataracts: Driving with a dirty windshield