• A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the normally transparent lens of the eye. As the opacity thickens, it prevents light rays from passing through the lens and focusing on the retina, the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. There are different types of cataracts:
√ Age-Related Cataract - As the body ages, the lens grows and adds layers, hardening and losing transparency.
√ Developmental Cataract can occur in children, and may be hereditary or associated with a birth defect, or with no apparent cause.
√ Secondary Cataract may be caused by other eye diseases, chronic conditions, prolonged steroid use, or previous eye surgery.
√ Traumatic Cataract may be caused by eye injury. These may appear immediately after the injury, or develop later.
• Cataracts are very common; in fact, by age 75, almost everyone can expect to have a cataract. Others with specific risk factors, such as eye trauma or other eye conditions (see "Types"above) may be likely to develop cataracts.
• Cataracts are a significant cause of blindness in some parts of the world, but fortunately, technological advances and the availability of new procedures mean that for most Americans, vision isn't lost.
• Symptoms include: sensitivity to light and glare, difficulty driving at night, dull color perception, vision distortion or "ghost" images, painless blurring or dimming of vision, frequent eyeglass prescription changes.
• It is uncertain what can prevent the development of a cataract. Some steps which may help:
√ Regular eye exams by your eye care provider. Your doctor is specially trained to detect many vision-threatening conditions even before you develop symptoms. The earlier problems are detected, the better the chance of preventing vision loss.
√ Protection from UV-A and UV-B rays. Some studies have suggested that prolonged or frequent exposure to UV-A and UV-B rays may be a factor in cataract and other eye conditions, so always wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100% of UV rays when outdoors.
√ If cataracts are not interfering with your lifestyle and the things you like to do, you may choose not to treat them. If you experience vision problems that affect your lifestyle, your eye care provider may suggest cataract surgery.
• There are no medications, eye drops, exercises or glasses that will make a cataract disappear. Cataracts can only be removed surgically.
Cataract Surgery Facts