Cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision loss in people over the age of 40 and remain an uncomfortable side effect of growing older.

Usually painless, cataracts develop as you age and your eyes' lenses naturally begin to harden and turn cloudy or white. The cloudy lens in your eye then blocks light from reaching your retina (the part of your eye that transmits visual information to your brain). The result is a reduction in vision—not unlike looking through a dirty car windshield.

While cataracts often occur naturally as you age, you're more likely to develop them if you have diabetes and hypertension, are obese, a regular smoker or have a family history of the condition.

Possible causes of cataracts include:

Although no means of preventing cataracts has been scientifically proven, possible prevention can start with addressing risk factors such as UVB exposure. Wearing sunglasses that counteract ultraviolet light may slow their development.  Also increasing your vitamins A, C, and E intake, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption can also help.

Getting cataracts treated early on is essential to maintaining proper vision.

Schedule an exam on a regular basis if you notice any symptoms.