A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye. The lens is the part of the eye that focuses light. Cataracts can impair vision.
The most common cause is aging. Proteins in the lens begin to break down after age 40, causing the lens to become cloudy. Some clouding of the lenses is common in people over the age of 60. Vision problems, on the other hand, may not appear for years.
Cataracts caused by old age usually develop over time. Cataracts may develop more quickly as a result of certain risk factors such as:
If you have a cataract, you may experience:
Your doctor may be able to detect your cataract simply by looking into your eye.
To diagnose cataracts, an eye doctor will examine your eyes with a special slit-lamp microscope. A comprehensive eye exam will be performed to check for the most common causes of vision loss.
Not everyone needs treatment. Cataracts that cause significant vision loss and interfere with daily activities can be surgically treated. The cloudy lens must be removed and replaced with a new artificial lens.
Cataract surgery takes 10-20 minutes to complete and is rarely associated with complications such as infection or pain. If both eyes need cataract surgery, it will usually be done on separate days.