Learning More About: Cataracts

Recognizing cataracts symptoms, protecting your eyes and understanding cataract surgery.

Cataracts: An Overview

Diagram: Cataracts

Cataracts is a disease of the eye that results in the clouding of the lens of the eyeball. Cataracts prevent clear images from appearing on the eye's retina; causing mild, moderate, even severe blurred vision.

Typically an eye disorder associated with aging (over half of the people in America over age 80 have either had a cataract or cataract surgery), cataracts generally occur later in life as the lens structure within the human eye changes and gets older.

Symptoms of Cataracts:

Since the lens of the eye works much like a camera lens, it's vital that it remain clear and healthy for clear vision. Cataract symptoms appear in the visual field as hazy or blurred spots of vision.

Other cataracts symptoms include an increased sensitivity to glare from lamps, headlights or sunlight. Colors may start to look faded or dull. Poor night vision, "blind spots", even frequent changes in your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses, all can be symptoms of cataracts.

Cataracts tend to develop slowly, sometimes barely affecting vision at all. Over time, they can be managed through corrective lenses and specialty eyewear. Sometimes cataract surgery may be required. That's why it's so important to have regular eye exams, especially on a regular basis as you age.

Cataract Surgery & Treatment:

Cataract treatments can include stronger prescription glasses, the addition of anti-reflective coatings or photochromic lenses to better protect your eyes, even changes in everyday lighting conditions can all postpone or eliminate the need for cataract surgery.

If cataract surgery is required, it's a comfort to know this is one of the most common (and safe) procedures performed today, with over 90% percent of people reporting improved vision after the procedure.

There are two types of cataract surgery, each designed to eliminate the cataract and usually replace the defective lens with an artificial lens. In cases where an artificial lens cannot be used, your doctor may prescribe high magnification corrective lenses or contacts to replace your lens function.

More About Cataracts:

Though cataracts are often associated with aging – particularly men and women over age 60, people in their 40's and 50's are also more prone to developing cataracts. Research suggests that lifestyle factors like cigarette and alcohol use, diabetes and prolonged exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays could all contribute to lens yellowing with age, and cataracts. Find what eyewear is best for you using our interactive EyeGlass Builder.

Other types of cataracts include secondary cataracts from surgery for other eye disorders like glaucoma; cataracts that form as a response to eye trauma or injury; cataracts that develop after exposure to certain forms of radiation; and in some cases, cataracts are congenital – you're born with them.

The point is – with cataract symptoms and treatment, as with all things eyecare-related – there's no substitute for a comprehensive, regularly schedule eye exam to check for vision problems and maintain healthy sight.

The information seen here is for reference purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or to diagnose or prescribe any specific treatment(s). For all questions and concerns about your vision, eye health and potential eye problems, please consult an eyecare professional.

Special thanks to the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, for source material that aided in the creation of this website. Visit the NEI/NIH website.

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