Top: Normal Lens
Bottom: Lens with Cataract
Inside our eyes, we have a natural lens. The lens bends (refracts) light rays that come into the eye to help us see. The lens should be clear, like the top lens in the illustration. If you have a cataract, your lens has become cloudy, like the bottom lens in the illustration. It is like looking through a foggy or dusty car windshield. Things look blurry, hazy or less colorful with a cataract.
Cataract Symptom Progression:Having blurry vision Seeing double Sensitivity to light Seeing faded colors or yellow instead
Besides aging, other cataract risk factors include:Having parents, brothers, sisters, or other family members who have cataracts Having certain medical problems, such as diabetes Having had an eye injury, eye surgery, or radiation treatments on your upper body Having spent a lot of time in the sun, especially without sunglasses that protect your eyes from UV rays
If you have any of these risk factors for cataract, you should schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist.
Causes of Cataract:
Though there are risk factors for cataracts, aging is the most common cause. This is due to normal eye changes that happen after around age 40. That is when normal proteins in the lens start to break down. This is what causes the lens to get cloudy. People over age 60 usually start to have some clouding of their lenses. However, vision problems may not happen until years later.
Treatment for Cataract:
Cataracts can be removed only with surgery.
If your cataract symptoms are not bothering you very much, you don’t have to remove a cataract. You might just need a new eyeglass prescription to help you see better. You should consider surgery when cataracts keep you from doing things you want or need to do.
During cataract surgery, your eye surgeon will remove your eye’s cloudy natural lens. Then they will replace it with an artificial lens. This new lens is called an intraocular lens (or IOL). When you decide to have cataract surgery, your doctor will talk with you about IOLs and how they work.
People who have had cataract surgery may have their vision become hazy again years later. This is usually because the eye’s capsule has become cloudy. The capsule is the part of your eye that holds the IOL in place. Your ophthalmologist can use a laser to open the cloudy capsule and restore clear vision. This is called a capsulotomy.
Cataracts are very common reason people lose vision, but they can be treated. You and your ophthalmologist should discuss your cataract symptoms. Together you can decide whether you are ready for cataract surgery.