What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that naturally occurs with age. Cataracts typically form slowly over time and they can occur in one or both eyes. They disrupt vision by blocking light as it enters the eye and causing loss of vision.
As part of the natural process of aging, proteins that help form the lens change, which causes the lens to become less transparent. Over time, the lens becomes more opaque (the cataract gets “larger”) and less light can enter the eye which affects vision and color perception. Several factors may exacerbate the natural wear and tear can cause cataracts to form more quickly, including:
- Certain medications, such as corticosteroids
- Exposure to ultraviolet radiation
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Blurry vision — Objects both near and far may appear fuzzy or poorly defined.
- Glare — Increased visual sensitivity can cause the appearance of a halo around lights or headlights.
- Poor night vision — Dimness or loss of visual acuity at night, often due to glare, may be most pronounced when driving.
- Dull colors — Colors become less vibrant and discolored, often with a yellowish tint, although the change may be so gradual and subtle that it goes unnoticed.
- Eyeglasses — A change to prescription may be enough to improve the early symptoms of cataracts. Surgery becomes necessary when cataracts interfere with everyday tasks, even while wearing glasses.
- Cataract surgery — This outpatient procedure removes the cloudy lens. This should treat the blurry vision, glare, discoloration and other symptoms of cataracts, while also reducing the need for eyeglasses for distance vision, by replacing the natural lens with a custom-fit, clear-plastic one. Cataract surgery usually takes 15–30 minutes. Patients may be sensitive to light for a few days after surgery, and they should avoid bending, heavy lifting and strenuous activities until cleared by their ophthalmologist. Full healing typically occurs within four weeks after surgery.
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If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of a cataract, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.
Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat a cataract.