What is a cataract?

The lens of a human eye works rather like the lens of a camera. This clear lens helps to focus light onto the retina at the back of the eye to form a sharp image.

A cataract is a cloudiness that develops in the normally clear lens inside the eye. It occurs as a part of the eye’s ageing process – it is not a growth, a white film, or a kind of cancer, nor is it caused by overuse of the eye. An age-related cataract is not something that was absent one day and just appeared the next day – they are caused by the deterioration of the normal protein structure within the lens of the eye as a person ages.

Depending on the size and location of the cloudy areas in the lens, you may not be aware a cataract is developing. As the cataract progresses, you may become aware of one of the following symptoms:

Deterioration of long or short vision, or even both
Hazy or cloudy vision
Decreased night vision
Sensitivity to light or intolerance to glare
Increasing the strength of your glasses no longer gives you clear vision

Who gets cataracts?

Most people with cataracts are healthy and have no other eye disease. Cataracts occur mainly in people over the age of 60 years as part of the normal aging process, but can occur in people as young as 40. The development of cataracts is similar to other age-related changes in the human body, such as hair turning grey, and skin becoming wrinkled. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in older adults and may affect up to 60% of adults over the age of 65 year as you can read from Ask Corran blog.

The risk of cataract increases as you get older. Other risk factors for cataract include:

Certain diseases such as diabetes.
Smoking and alcohol use.
Prolonged exposure to sunlight

How are cataracts treated?

In the early stages a change in the prescription of your glasses may be enough. However, cataract micro-surgery is the only effective treatment for more advanced cataracts. There is no evidence that a change in diet or medications will stop or slow cataract formation.

Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.

A cataract needs to be removed only when vision loss interferes with your everyday activities, such as driving, reading, or watching TV.

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