A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s naturally clear lens.  Your eye becomes like a window that is frosted or yellowed.  Common symptoms of cataract include:

  • a painless blurring of vision
  • glare, or light sensitivity
  • poor night vision
  • double vision in one eye
  • difficulty reading in dim light
  • colors looking faded or yellow

The cloudiness and pattern of a cataract can vary.  If the cloudiness is to the side of your field of vision, you may not be aware that you have cataract.  There are many misconceptions about cataract.  Cataract is not:

  • a film over the eye
  • caused by overusing the eyes
  • spread from one eye to the other
  • a cause of irreversible blindness

How quickly the cataract develops varies among individuals and may even be different between the two eyes.  Most age-related cataracts progress gradually over a period of years.  Other cataracts, especially in younger people and people with diabetes, may progress more rapidly.  It is not possible to predict exactly how fast cataracts will develop in any given person.

Causes/Risk Factors

The most common type of cataract is related to aging.  In an age-related cataract, the center of the lens gradually hardens and becomes cloudy.  It may become so cloudy that your Ophthalmologist (Eye MD) cannot clearly see the details of the retina.  At that point, you might experience difficulty identifying colors and seeing at a distance.  Other causes of cataract include:

  • family history of cataract
  • medical problems, like diabetes
  • injury to the eye
  • medications, especially steroids
  • radiation
  • long-term, unprotected exposure to sunlight
  • previous eye surgery

By performing a thorough eye examination, your Eye MD can detect the presence of a cataract.  A careful exam will also rule out any other conditions, such as vision loss due to problems with cornea, retina, or optic nerve.

Surgery is the only way a cataract can be removed. Cataract surgery is a highly successful procedure, and is the most widely performed surgery today. Your Eye MD will ask you if your vision makes your daily tasks difficult, such as cooking, shopping, or taking medications.  Based on your symptoms, you and your Eye MD should decide together when surgery is appropriate.

During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed from the eye, and in most cases, a permanent intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted. Premium Lenses are also available, which will enable you to see both near, far, and everything in between.