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What Are Cataracts?

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Definition

Cataracts SalemA cataract is a clouding in the crystalline lens of the eye leading to a decline in vision. Normally light passes through the clear lens of the eye to reach the retina, the light sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. The retina in turn transmits this signal to the brain allowing us to see. In an eye with a cataract, or a cloudy lens, light is scattered and does not get fully transmitted to the retina resulting in a blurring of vision.

Causes

In most people, the development of this condition is associated with aging. Cataracts can also develop as a result of injuries, medication use, systemic diseases, radiation exposure, and intraocular inflammation among many other causes. Approximately 5.5 million people in the United States have a cataract causing a decline in their vision.

Symptoms

Most common symptoms associated with cataracts include a gradual decline in vision, reduced color perception, decreased contrast sensitivity, and increase glare from oncoming headlights.

Treatment

If a cataract is interfering with your vision in a significant way, a simple change in glasses cannot alleviate the problem. Surgery is the only option to help treat this problem. Cataract surgery is a safe procedure. The lens is removed through a small incision in the cornea using an ultrasonic hand piece. A permanent intraocular lens implant is used to replace the natural lens. Many varieties of intraocular implants exist on the market today. Traditional implants can help restore either distance or near vision and do not correct for astigmatism. A new generation of implants can now provide further options to maximizing vision. There are implants that can now correct for astigmatism. In addition there are also implants that provide a full range of vision allowing you to see at distance, intermediate, and near with minimal to no reliance on glasses. Your ophthalmologist will help you decide which lens is right for you.