A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. It can be compared to a window that is frosted or yellowed. 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.
There are many misconceptions about a cataract.
Cataract is not:
A film over the eye caused by overusing the eyes. Spread from one eye to the other
A cause of irreversible blindness.Common symptoms of cataract include: A painless blurring of vision. Glare, or light sensitivity, poor night vision, double vision in one eye,
needing brighter light to read, fading or yellowing of colors
What causes a cataract?
The most common type of cataract is related to aging of the eye. Causes of cataract include:
Medical problems, such as diabetes
Injury to the eye
Medications, especially steroids
Long-term, unprotected exposure to sunlight
Previous eye surgery
How is a cataract treated?
Surgery is the only way a cataract can be removed. However, if symptoms of cataract are not bothering you very much, surgery may not be needed. Sometimes a simple change in your eyeglass prescription may be helpful.
No medications, dietary supplements or exercises have been shown to prevent or cure cataracts. Protection from excessive sunlight may help slow the progression of cataract. 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?
Surgery should be considered when cataracts cause enough loss of vision to interfere with you your daily activities. It’s not true that cataracts need to be “ripe” before they can be removed or that they need to be removed just because they are present.
Cataract surgery can be performed when your visual needs require it. You must decide if you can see well enough to do your job, drive safely, and read or watch TV in comfort. Does your vision allow you to perform daily tasks, such as cooking, shopping, doing yard work or taking medications without difficulty.
Based on your symptoms, you and your ophthalmologist should decide together when surgery is appropriate.
Cataracts are a common cause of decreased vision, particularly for the elderly, but they are treatable. Your ophthalmologist can tell you whether cataract or some other problem is the cause of your vision loss and can help you decide if cataract surgery is appropriate for you.
American Academy of Ophthalmology
The Eye M.D. Association