Understanding Cataracts

Morgagnian-Cataract-1The human eye works in a manner similar to a camera. The eye has a natural crystalline lens located behind the pupil and colored part of the eye, the iris. The natural crystalline lens is often described as being the same size and shape as an “M&M”. The lens functions to focus what the eye is looking at onto the retina, which then “takes the picture” much like the film in a camera. This image is then transmitted via the optic nerve to the back of the brain, which interprets what we are seeing. A cataract is a progressive clouding of the eye’s natural lens. It is often described as a sensation of looking through a cloudy window. Early cataract development may not disturb vision, but over time cataracts typically result in blurred or fuzzy vision and sensitivity to light. Many people experience diminished color vision and difficulty driving at night. The good news regarding cataract surgery is that this procedure has experienced significant improvements in technology and surgical techniques enabling patients to recover in a more safe and timely manner. There are multiple options for vision correction during and after cataract surgery, including astigmatism correction, monovision for reading, and correction of any residual nearsightedness or farsightedness. These options can eliminate or decrease dependence on glasses.

What causes a cataract?

The natural aging process accounts for over 90% of cataracts. Other potential causes include:

  • Trauma – accidents or injuries
  • Medications – i.e. Prednisone
  • Medical conditions – i.e. Diabetes
  • Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays – i.e. sun
  • Congenital

Symptoms of cataracts

If a cataract is making it difficult for you to carry out your normal daily activities, your doctor may suggest cataract surgery. Following is a list of some of the more common symptoms associated with cataracts.

  • Difficulty seeing road signs and driving at night
  • Colors appear dim and faded
  • Images become progressively blurred
  • Frequent changes in glasses prescription
  • Glare, halos around lights, starburst.