What is a cataract?
A cataract is clouding of the natural “crystalline” lens in your eye making it less transparent. This prevents light from being able to effectively pass through the lens, which dims, distorts and reduces vision. The lens in your eye works like the lens of a camera. It focuses light onto the retina and adjusts the eye’s focus, allowing us see clearly both up close and far away. As we age transparency of the lens is lost resulting in “clouded” vision known as cataracts.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
A cataract may start out small with minimal visual interruption. Over time, if left untreated, the cataract will become more opaque and visual impairment may become more prevalent. Typical symptoms include:
- Painless blurring of vision
- Light sensitivity
- Poor night vision
- Double vision in one eye
- Yellowing or fading of colors
- Halos around lights
- Reading difficulty
- Glare in bright or oncoming lights
If you feel you may have a cataract, it is important to promptly schedule an exam with your family eye doctor.
What causes a cataract?
The most common cause of a cataract is the natural aging of the eye. However, there are additional causes which include:
- Trauma to the head or eye
- Preexisting medical issues
- Previous eye surgery
- Family tendency
- Certain medications
When should surgery be done?
In its earliest stages, eyeglasses or brighter lighting may help with vision loss due to cataracts. As a cataract increases and vision loss progresses, surgery becomes the only effective treatment to permanently restore vision. Cataract surgery should be considered when your vision is reduced enough to interfere with daily activities. Many people accept vision loss as a part of growing older. However modern cataract surgery has become a routine, same-day procedure that allows patients to regain their vision. Based on your symptoms, you and your family eye doctor should decide together when surgery may be appropriate.