A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. The vast majority of cataracts are related to age. Most people do not even realize they have a cataract, as cataracts grow very slowly and may not impede vision early on. After a number of years vision will likely be affected. When the cataract has become so dense that it compromises the patient’s quality of life, the patient and ophthalmologist will discuss the appropriate time to remove it. Surgery is the only treatment.
What Causes a Cataract?
The human lens is transparent so that light can travel through it easily. It has no blood supply. It is 65% water. Although new cells are being made for the lens continuously throughout our lifetime, many factors combine as we age to cause areas in the lens to become cloudy, hard, and dense. The lens can then no longer transmit a clear picture to the retina where it can be processed and sent through the optic nerve to the brain.
Typically patients will experience blurry vision, double vision, sensitivity to light, glare, colors that appear washed out, and frequent changes to eyeglass prescription. An ophthalmologist or optometrist will be able to diagnose a cataract by looking through a slit-lamp during a dilated eye examination or by looking through an ophthalmoscope.