What is a cataract?

Every normally developed human eye contains within it a crystalline lens. This lens is a clear organ made up of proteins and is responsible for focusing images on the retina, much like the lens inside a camera that brings images to focus on film. With time and under the influence factors such as ultraviolet lights, smoking, poor nutrition, radiation and/or chemotherapy, but most commonly as part of the aging process, the lens becomes cloudy. This occurs due to denaturation of the proteins that make up the lens. This process of clouding of the lens is irreversible and is called cataract formation. As the cataract forms, the light is scattered by the increasingly dense and cloudy lens and results in poor vision.


Who is at risk for developing cataracts?

Patients between the ages of 65 and 70 are at risk for developing cataracts and up to 50% of them have visually significant cataracts that interfere with activities of daily living. Patients, who are on chronic steroid administration, have undergone radiation or chemotherapy and patients who have had trauma are all at risk for developing cataracts even at an earlier age.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

Cataract symptoms include halos, glare, decrease of visual acuity, loss of color perception and contrast sensitivity. Frequently, symptoms are manifested as difficulty seeing road signs, experiencing halos and glare from the oncoming traffic as well as trouble reading, photosensitivity and loss of color perception.

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