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A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. It can be compared to a window that is frosted or “fogged” with steam. The most common type of cataract is related to aging of the eye. Other causes of cataract include family history, medical problems – such as diabetes, injury to the eye, medications – such as steroids, long-term, unprotected exposure to sunlight, and previous eye surgery.

A thorough eye examination by your ophthalmologist can detect the presence and extent of a cataract, as well as any other conditions that may be causing blurred vision or discomfort. If other reasons for vision loss exist in addition to the cataract, removal of the cataract may not result in any improvement in vision. Your ophthalmologist can tell you how much visual improvement is likely.

Cataract eye diagram

When a cataract forms, the lens of the eye becomes thick and cloudy. Light cannot pass through it easily, and vision is blurred.

You may be a candidate if you have myopia, hyperopia with or without astigmatism, or a bothersome need for reading glasses. You must be 18 years of age or older, and your eyes must be healthy – free from retinal problems, corneal scars and eye disease. Certain eye disorders and medical problems can prevent laser surgery from being performed safely, and must be thoroughly discussed with your physician.

How is a Cataract Treated?

Surgery is the only way your ophthalmologist can remove the cataract. However, if symptoms from a cataract are mild, a change of glasses may be all that is needed for you to function more comfortably.

There are no medications, dietary supplements, exercises or optical devices that have been shown to prevent or cure cataracts.

Protection from excessive sunlight may help prevent or slow the progression of cataracts. Sunglasses that screen out ultraviolet (UV) light rays or regular eyeglasses with a clear, anti-UV coating offer this protection.

Source of information above is the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Copyright 1993. American Academy of Ophthalmology.