A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens of the eye, which lies behind the iris and the pupil. The lens works much like a camera, focusing light onto the back part of the eye which is called the retina. When we are young, our lens is very flexible and can bend to refract light and help us to focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away.
But as we age that natural lens that we were born with tends to harden and cloud over with deposits of protein and other matter. This is a cataract, and over time, it may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, blurring the vision and making colors less vibrant.
Cataracts are classified as one of three types:
A cataract starts out small and at first has little effect on your vision. You may notice that your vision is blurred a little, like looking through a cloudy window pain. Colors may not seem as vibrant as they used to. You may notice that you are more sensitive to bright lights or the glare of oncoming headlights at night. "star-burst affects" or halos around lights at night are a sign of cataracts.
The type of cataract you have will affect exactly which symptoms you experience and how soon they will occur.
If you think you have a cataract, call our office to schedule an evaluation with any of our qualified physicians.
What Causes Cataracts?
No one knows for sure why the eye's lens changes as we age, forming cataracts.Many studies suggest that exposure to ultraviolet light is associated with cataract development, so eye care practitioners recommend wearing sunglasses to reduce your exposure. Other studies suggest that diseases such as diabetes and use of certain medications especially high doses of steroids can increase your risk for developing a cataract.
When symptoms begin to appear, you may be able to improve your vision for a while using new glasses, strong magnification, appropriate lighting or other visual aids.
Think about surgery when your cataracts have progressed enough to seriously impair your vision and affect your daily life. Many people consider poor vision an inevitable fact of aging, but cataract surgery is a simple, relatively painless procedure to regain vision.
Cataract surgery is very successful in restoring vision. In fact, it is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States, with more than 3 million Americans undergoing cataract surgery each year. Nine out of 10 people who have cataract surgery regain very good vision, somewhere between 20/20 and 20/40.