cataract is a painless, cloudy area in the lens of the eye that blocks the
passage of light to the retina. The retina is the nerve layer at the back of
the eye. The nerve cells in the retina detect light entering the eye and send
nerve signals to the brain about what the eye sees. Because cataracts block
this light, they can cause vision problems.
Aging and exposure to
sunlight can cause cataracts. Changes in your eyes are often a normal part of
aging. But the changes do not always lead to cataracts.
also happen after an eye injury, as a result of eye disease, after you use
certain medicines, or as a result of health problems such as
Sometimes children are born
Cataracts can affect your
- You may have cloudy, fuzzy, or foggy vision.
may see glare from lamps or the sun. You may have trouble driving at night
because of glare from car headlights.
- You may need frequent
changes to your eyeglasses prescription.
- You may get double vision
in one eye.
- Your near vision may improve for a short time if you
get a cataract. This temporary improvement is called
The vision loss from a cataract often happens slowly
and may never become severe. Sometimes cataracts do not cause any vision problems.
Your doctor can find
out if you have cataracts by doing a physical exam and by asking questions
about your symptoms and past health. You may need tests to make sure you
have a cataract or to rule out other conditions that may be causing vision
Surgery can remove cataracts. For most adults, surgery is only needed when vision
loss caused by a cataract affects their quality of life.
There are a number of things you can
do that may help you manage your vision problems. Many people get along very
well with the help of eyeglasses, contacts, or other vision aids. Keep your
eyeglasses or contact lens prescription up to date. Also make sure you have
plenty of lighting in your home. You may be able to avoid or delay
Whether you need cataract surgery depends on how much of
a problem the cataract causes for daily activities like driving and reading.
Surgery is almost always by your choice (elective) and can be scheduled when it
is convenient. For people who decide to have surgery, the surgery usually
works very well.
Some people have to have surgery. Children are
sometimes born with cataracts that need to be removed. Other people may get
cataracts after an eye injury or as a result of eye disease or other health
problems. Cataracts from these causes may also need to be removed.