What is a Cataract?
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 cataract.
A cataract is:
- Not a film over the eye
- Not caused by overusing the eyes
- Not a cancer
- Not spread from one eye to the other
- Not a cause of irreversible blindness
Common symptoms of cataract 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 Cataracts
The most common type of cataract is related to aging of the eye. Other causes of cataract include:
- Family history
- Medical problems, such as diabetes
- Injury to the eye
- Medications, such as steroids
- Long-term, unprotected exposure to sunlight
- Previous eye surgery
How is a cataract detected?
A thorough eye examination by your ophthalmologist (medical eye doctor) can detect the presence and extent of a cataract, as well as any other conditions that may be causing blurred vision or discomfort.
There may be other reasons for visual loss in addition to the cataract, particularly problems involving the retina or optic nerve. If these problems are present, perfect vision may not return after cataract removal.
If such conditions are severe, removal of he 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 cataracts associated with aging progress gradually develop over a period of years.
Other cataracts, especially in younger people and people with diabetes, may progress rapidly over a few months and cause vision to worsen. It is not possible to predict exactly how fast cataracts will develop in any given person.