Cataract: What is it?
Symptoms You May Experience:
Examination: What Your Eye Doctor Will Look For:
What You Can Do:
When To Call Your M.D.:
Prognosis: Will I See Better?
The most common type of cataract is an age-related cataract. Much less commonly, cataracts can be present at birth, these are called congenital cataracts. A cataract that forms as a result of an eye injury is a traumatic cataract. Certain medical conditions (such as diabetes) and certain medicines (such as steroids) can impossible to predict how quickly a cataract will progress. In most cases, cataracts do not cause permanent damage to the eye besides affecting the vision. However, rare cases of extremely advanced cataracts may result in inflammation or high eye pressure.
Your vision may gradually become blurred over months or years and you may notice sensitivity to light or glare. Poor night vision, difficulty driving, and needing brighter light to read are common symptoms of cataracts. Some people also experience double vision in one eye, fading or yellowing of colors, or frequent eyeglass prescription changes, especially after years of stable vision. Cataracts may cause some people to no longer need their eyeglasses as the cataract changes the way the eye refracts, or bends, light (known as "second sight"). Cataracts are so named (the word means "waterfall") because having a cataract may give the impression of looking through the mist or fog from a waterfall. Cataracts are typically painless.
Your eye doctor will notice that your vision may be blurred even with the best glasses prescription. Your doctor may also perform a "glare test" by shining bright lights toward your eyes while you read the eye chart. This test simulates glare from sunshine or car headlights. Your doctor may dilate your pupils to see the lens better with a microscope. He or she will also look for other possible causes of your blurry vision.
There are no known medicines, vitamin supplements, or exercises that can prevent or cure cataracts. Protection from excess ultraviolet (uv) light with sunglasses may help slow the progress.
If you start to notice painless blurry vision, glare, sensitivity to light, or poor vision in dim light, you should make an appointment with your eye doctor. Cataracts do not harm the eyes in most cases, but they do cause your vision to become blurrier over time. Trouble driving, especially at night, and having to use brighter lights to read comfortably are other reasons to call your eye doctor.
Cataract surgery should be considered when the cataract causes enough blurriness to interfere with your daily activitities. Surgery is the only known way to treat cataracts. It can improve vision and make colors seem brighter. If a cataract makes your vision only slightly blurry, then a follow up visit in several months or a year may be recommended before it is decided whether surgery is needed.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common and most successful surgeries performed in the United States today. If a cataract is the main cause of blurry vision, then your chance of seeing better after cataract surgery is quite good.
A cataract is a natural clouding of the normally clear lens inside the eye that occurs with age. Light must pass through the lens to reach the retina, and a cataract makes the vision hazy. Cataracts are part of the aging process and are found in over 75% of people over the age of 70. The lens is clear at birth, but with time it becomes hazier and more yellow or brown. Cataracts are one of the most common causes of treatable, reversible vision loss.
Above: A Typical Cataract (Click For Bigger View-Warning:Graphic)
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