A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. The lens is the clear part of the eye that helps to focus light or an image on the retina.
In a normal eye, light passes through the transparent lens to the retina. Light is then changed into nerve signals that are sent to the brain. If the lens is cloudy from a cataract, the image is blurred.
Cataracts are very common in older people. According to the National Eye Institute, by age eighty more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.
Different Types of Cataracts
There are several types of cataracts:
- The most common type of cataract occurs with age.
- A secondary cataract can form after surgery for another eye problem, such as glaucoma. Diabetics may develop cataracts.
- Cataracts have also been linked to steroid use.
- A traumatic cataract can develop after an eye injury.
- Babies are sometimes born with cataracts called congenital cataracts.
- Finally, cataracts can develop after exposure to some types of radiation.
Symptoms of Cataracts
The symptoms of cataracts include:
- unclear or blurry vision
- diminished color vision
- glare with poor night vision
- sometimes double or multiple images in one eye
It’s important to note that pain is not associated with cataracts. Cataracts tend to develop slowly, so that although they become thicker and may turn yellow or brown over time, some people don’t even realize they have them until they see their eye doctor.
The good news is that they can be fixed within minutes with outpatient surgery. In fact, the newest implantable lenses (IOL’s) can restore distance and reading vision. Cataract surgery is covered by Medicare and most other medical insurance plans.
34 Questions to Ask BEFORE Having Cataract Surgery
If you or someone you love is considering cataract surgery, download our free cataract guide. It includes the answers to 34 different questions about cataracts and cataract surgery.