The eye can be likened to a camera: Light rays focus through the lens of the eye to produce a clear image on the back of the eye. A cataract is a loss of transparency, or clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. This loss of transparency produces a hazy image. As one ages, chemical changes occur in the lens that make it less transparent. It is basically a normal part of aging.
People at risk for developing cataracts are over 55 years old, have had eye injuries or certain systemic disease (diabetes), have a family history of cataract, smoke cigarettes or use certain medications such as steroids.
Cataracts typically develop slowly and progressively, causing a gradual and painless decrease in vision. Symptoms can include the following:
Blurred vision at distance or at near
Sensitivity to Glare (particularly at night with headlights)
A feeling of a “film” over the eyes
A temporary improvement in near vision
Double vision from one eye alone
TREATMENT AND PREVENTION:
Reducing the amount of UV light exposure by wearing sunglasses and a wide brim hat and eating a nutritionally healthy diet may reduce your risk of developing a cataract. But, once a cataract has developed, there is no cure except to have the cataract surgically removed.
With an outpatient surgical procedure, an ophthalmologist can remove the cataract. Typically, a synthetic intraocular lens (IOL) is inserted at the time of cataract extraction to replace the focusing power of the natural lens. IOL can be for a fixed preset distance (the traditional IOL) or multifocal which allows focused images at many distances (the latest in IOL technology). The timing of surgery depends solely on the patients concerns and symptoms.
Cataract surgery is a very successful operation. As with any surgical procedure, however, complications can occur during or after the operation that can in some cases limit vision. But, in the vast majority of cases, vision, as well as quality of life, improves.