A cataract is clouding of the eye’s lens, the part that helps the eye focus light. The result is a general blurriness in vision that can worsen over time.
Among eye disorders, cataracts are one of the most common, particularly in the elderly. By the age of 80, people have a greater than 50 percent chance of either having a cataract or having had surgery to correct a cataract.
Causes and Symptoms of Cataracts
In the vast majority of cases, the greatest risk factor for cataracts is simply getting older. The eye’s lens is a fairly simple structure made up of water and proteins, and over time those proteins begin to clump together, leading to the blurry vision of cataracts. Other age-related lifestyle factors, such as smoking or diabetes, may raise your risk for cataracts even more.
A few non-age-related factors can cause cataracts, as well. For example, traumatic cataracts occur after an eye injury, and congenital cataracts are present at birth. You can also develop secondary cataracts that occur after surgery on the eyes. Cataracts can also develop as a result of radiation exposure.
In addition to the general blurriness of vision, cataracts also can pose problems seeing at night, cause an increased sensitivity to light glare and make colors appear less intense.
Treatment of Cataracts
If you do not yet have a cataract, some steps might help prevent one. Wearing sunglasses and hats to protect the eyes, abstaining from smoking and heavy drinking, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables may all play a role in preventing cataracts. Once you have cataracts, better glasses and sunglasses and brighter light may help, but the only way to "cure" the cataract is with surgery. This procedure involves removing the cloudy lens from the eye and replacing it with an artificial lens.
SOURCES: U.S. National Eye Institute; American Optometric Association
Many don't offer enough protection from the sun's damaging UV rays, study finds
They're more likely than men to lose sight from cataracts, glaucoma and other eye diseases, experts say
Key is to get the nutrient from foods rather than a supplement, researchers say
Leaving these cells behind during removal of damaged tissue led to regeneration of new, clear lens
Eye drops may offer new approach for research, expert says
Restricted access to eye and health care likely to blame, study authors suggest
Costs for unnecessary blood work, urine tests and EKGs add up
But benefits of cholesterol-lowering drugs outweigh risks, experts say
Nutrients also have little effect on rates of cataract removal, study involving men over 50 finds
Sunlight reflected up into the eyes may boost odds for a condition that could harm vision, study finds
Besides better vision, patients and caregivers report improved quality of life
But more could be done to improve vision loss, researchers say
But seniors' lives aren't really affected, and certain treatments can reverse condition, experts say
An additional option after cataract operation
Chances of the vision problem declined over 20-year period for those who quit, study found
Study finds baby boomers having the procedure at earlier age
Tips for protecting your vision and skin
But heart benefits of these drugs are significant, expert says
Reasons for association aren't clear, study author says
Aniridia, a genetic disorder, can cause blindness as well as metabolic illnesses, experts say
Devices appear to reduce pressure in the eye, studies find
Audio therapy may reduce anxiety during this common procedure
But link isn't proven and patients shouldn't stop taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, researchers say
Study found seniors who had procedure were less likely to have fall-related breaks
Improved cataract surgery techniques, less smoking may be reasons why
Along with cataract surgery, helps reduce pressure inside eye
Isocyanic acid released from cooking fires, cigarettes, wildfires, researchers find
Myths about when and how to treat vision problem often delay treatment, experts say
Return of good eyesight after 30 years is called 'a gift'
Visual warning signs
Long-term use had no effect on age-related eye disorder, researchers say
If healthy lifestyle doesn't prevent the condition, surgery is 95 percent successful, eye doctors say
Good nutrition staved off cataracts; some drugs, smoking increased vision problems, studies found
More study needed to confirm findings, researcher suggests
As the population ages, more programs needed to address vision loss, experts say
Standard therapy still recommended over steroid injections, researchers say
Changes in your vision
Link likely due to fact that both eye conditions are age-related, researchers say
Could help advance understanding of this vision-robbing disease
Men should be aware of dangers if taking prostate drug, experts say
Study says surgical advances may explain away the link seen in earlier research
CDC study projects that by 2050, up to 16 million people will have vision problems
Simple surgeries, superior replacement lenses give many remarkable vision
Age a key factor, but group cites other risks during August disease awareness month
The popular eye procedure helps many, but complaints show it may not be for everyone
Experts say lens replacement is a cost-effective treatment for aging eyes
When the eye's lens becomes clouded