A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts occur with age, infact by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.
The lens is a clear part of the eye that helps to focus light, or an image, on the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.
In a normal eye, light passes through the transparent lens to the retina. Once it reaches the retina, light is changed into nerve signals that are sent to the brain.
The lens must be clear for the retina to receive a sharp image. If the lens is cloudy from a cataract, the image you see will be blurred.
Yes. Although most cataracts are related to aging, there are other types of cataract:
The same scene as viewed by a person with cataract
The most common symptoms of a cataract are:
Cataract surgery is a very common procedure. In fact, over 3 million people undergo the surgery every year, making it the most common surgery performed in the United States. When glasses can no longer improve eyesight sufficiently, cataract surgery should be considered. It is a relatively painless procedure and, has been very successful in restoring vision over the past thirty years. Traditional cataract surgery involves a process called phacoemulsification. A tiny incision is manually created in the cornea, a thin ultrasound probe is inserted, and ultrasonic vibration is used to dissolve the clouded lens. The clouded lens is replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL). The IOL will remain permanently inside the eye in this location, acting similar to an intraocular contact lens. IOLs cannot be felt or sensed in any way by the patient. The patient is then managed by their eye physician for 3 to 4 weeks while also taking prescription eye drops throughout this time.
A dramatic improvement in vision is usually noticed after surgery given there are no other reasons for decreased vision. Many people are surprised by the sudden improvement, and wonder why they didn’t do the surgery sooner!
Information provided by NEI and FeinerMan Vision Center