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Cataract


Cataract: What you should know.

Cataracts used to mean the end to a person's eyesight, but not anymore.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye and is usually related to aging. The clouding of the lens causes a change in how light is refracted onto the retina, leaving blurred vision. Surprisingly, more than half of Americans have a cataract or have had cataract surgery by age 80.

The lens in the human eye mainly consists of water and protein. The clarity of the lens is dependent on a precise arrangement of the protein. Most age-related cataracts develop from a clumping together of the protein, causing the lens to become cloudy and reducing the sharpness of the image reaching the retina.

Lenses can also change from clear to a yellowish or brownish color, adding a tint to vision. Over time, this change in tint can decrease one's ability to read or perform other routine activities. People with advanced lens discoloration may not be able to distinguish blues and purples.

Certain diseases, such as diabetes, increase the risk of developing cataracts as does smoking, alcohol use, and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.

Among the symptoms of cataract are:
  • Cloudy or blurry vision

  • Colors that seem faded

  • Disabling glare or halos around lights

  • Poor night vision

  • Double vision or multiple images in one eye

  • Frequent prescription changes in eyeglasses or contact lenses
Your eye care professional can diagnose cataracts with a comprehensive eye examination. He or she will examine your eyes' lenses with a microscope specifically designed to view the structures of the eye.

In the early stages of cataract development, your vision may be improved with a change in your corrective lenses. As the cataract progresses, surgery becomes necessary. Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed operations in the United States. About 90 percent of those who undergo cataract surgery experience better vision afterwards.

For further information about cataracts, contact your ophthalmologist or independent optometrist.


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