A cataract is when your eye's natural lens becomes cloudy. Proteins in your lens break down and cause things to look blurry, hazy or less colorful. If you have a cataract, your lens has become cloudy. It is like looking through a foggy or dusty car windshield. Things look blurry, hazy or less colorful with a cataract.
Here are some vision changes you may notice if you have a cataract:
Having blurry vision
Seeing double or ghost images out of the eye with cataract
Being extra sensitive to light especially with oncoming headlights at night
Having trouble seeing well at night
Needing more light when you read
Seeing bright colors as faded or yellow instead
Aging is the most common cause. This is due to normal eye changes that begin to happen after age 40. That is when normal proteins in the lens start to break down. This is what causes the lens to get cloudy.
People over age 60 usually start to have some clouding of their lenses. However, vision problems may not happen until years later.
Other reasons you may get cataracts include:
having parents, brothers, sisters, or other family members who have cataracts
having certain medical problems, such as diabetes
having had an eye injury, eye surgery, or radiation treatments on your upper body
having spent a lot of time in the sun especially without sunglasses that protect your eyes from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays
using certain medications such as corticosteroids which may cause early formation of cataracts.
Most age-related cataracts develop gradually. Other cataracts can develop more quickly, such as those in younger people or those in people with diabetes. Doctors cannot predict how quickly a person’s cataract will develop.
You can slow down cataracts by wearing sunglasses that reduce UV light rays.
Cataracts can be removed only with surgery.If your cataract symptoms are not bothering you very much, you don’t have to remove a cataract. You might just need an updated eyeglass prescription to help you see better. You should consider surgery when cataracts keep you from doing things you want or need to do.
During cataract surgery, your eye surgeon will remove your eye’s cloudy natural lens. Then he or she will replace it with an artificial lens. This new lens is called an intraocular lens or IOL. When you decide to have cataract surgery, your doctor will talk with you about how they work.
People who have had cataract surgery may have their vision become hazy again years later. This is usually because the lens capsule has become cloudy. The capsule is the part of your eye that holds the IOL in place. Your ophthalmologist can use a laser to open the cloudy capsule and restore clear vision. This is called a capsulotomy.
Cataracts are a very common reason people get decreased vision, but they can be treated. We will help you decide whether you are ready for cataract surgery.