A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. It can be compared to a window that is frosted or fogged with steam.
There are many misconceptions about cataracts. Cataracts are:
• not a film over the eye
• not caused by overusing the eyes
• not spread from one eye to the other
• not a cause of irreversible blindness
Common symptoms of cataracts include:
• a painless blurring of vision
• glare or light sensitivity
• frequent eyeglass prescription changes
• double vision in one eye
• needing brighter light to read
• poor night vision
• fading or yellowing of colors
The amount and pattern of cloudiness within the lens can vary. If the cloudiness is not near the center of the lens, you may not be aware that a cataract is present.
What causes a cataract?
The most common type of cataracts is related to
• family history
• medical problems, such as diabetes
• injury to the eye
• medications such as steroids
• long-term, unprotected exposure to sunlight
• previous eye surgery
• unknown factors
How is a cataract detected?
A thorough eye examination by your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) can detect the presence and extent of a cataract, as well as any other conditions that may be causing blurred vision or other symptoms.
There may be other reasons for
If such conditions are severe, removal of the cataract may not result in any improvement in vision. Your ophthalmologist can tell you how much visual improvement is likely.
How fast does a cataract develop?
How quickly the cataract develops varies among individuals and may vary even between the two eyes. Most age-related cataracts progress gradually over a period of years.
Other cataracts, especially in younger people and people with diabetes, may progress rapidly over a few months. It is not possible to predict exactly how fast cataracts will develop in any given person.
How is a cataract treated?
Surgery is the only way a cataract can be removed. However, if symptoms from a cataract are mild, a change of glasses may be all that is needed for you to function more comfortably.
There are no medications, dietary supplements, exercises or optical devices that have been shown to prevent or cure cataracts.
Protection from excessive sunlight may help prevent or slow the progression of cataracts. Sunglasses that screen out ultraviolet (UV) light rays or regular eyeglasses with a clear, anti-UV coating offer this protection.
When should surgery be done?
Cataract surgery should be considered when cataracts cause enough loss of vision to interfere with daily activities.
It is not true that cataracts need to be “ripe” before they can be removed.
Cataract surgery can be performed when your visual needs require it. You must decide if you can see to do your job and drive safely
Based on your symptoms, you and your ophthalmologist should decide together when surgery is appropriate.