What is a Cataract?
Many patients think that a cataract is a film that spreads over the surface of the eye. Some patients are even concerned that cataracts will make them go blind. In reality a cataract is a naturally occurring change in the lens of the eye in which a gradual clouding makes vision less sharp over time. Patients typically report the sensation of looking through wax paper. They often have trouble driving at night and colors become more dull. As you already know the eye works much like a camera and the lens must be clear to see well. A healthy transparent lens transmits light and accurately focuses it onto the retina, providing a crisp clear image. As the eye ages, proteins begin to clump together within the lens forming opaque clusters. Over time these protein deposits eventually cloud the entire lens limiting the amount of light that can pass through. Further, this light is scattered creating not only a blurred image but glare as well. Just as the lens can change in color as the cataract develops, the colors of the world we see can change as well.
It’s important to remember that cataracts are a part of the normal aging process and most people develop cataracts by the seventh or eighth decade of life. The good news is that the doctors at The Eye Center of the North Shore are highly experienced cataract surgeons and can address this problem. Once it is determined that you actually have a cataract an assessment will be done to determine if surgery is appropriate.
Many people are confused about what causes cataracts and often think they did something that led to its development. Most cataracts do occur with normal aging but there are certain risk factors:
- Trauma to the eye including injury, burns or surgery
- Toxins including regular tobacco use
- Exposure to UV radiation
- Certain diseases including diabetes and glaucoma
- Heredity may play a role in certain unusual forms of cataract
The typical symptoms of cataract include:
- Blurred Vision
- Dull Colors
- Poor Night Vision
- Sensitivity to Light
If a cataract goes untreated, it has the potential to cause complete loss of vision. Thanks to modern surgical techniques cataract surgery generally involves a safe, painless outpatient procedure that leads to a significant improvement in vision. Call us today for an appointment if you think you may have a cataract.