A cataract occurs when there are changes in the proteins that make up the normally clear lens of the eye. This causes the lens to become cloudy or opaque, preventing clear vision. Cataracts can form very slowly, with the first signs including:
Your eye care professional can provide you with a comprehensive eye exam to diagnose your vision-related symptoms, and will be able to tell you if your symptoms are related to cataracts.
Typically, cataracts occur as we age. More than 17 percent of Americans 40 years and older have a cataract in one or both eyes. More than half of all Americans ages 80 and older have cataracts.
Other causes can be:
Cataract treatment usually is based on the severity of the symptoms. Stronger eyeglass lenses, the use of anti-reflective lens coating, or stronger lighting while reading, may help while symptoms are minimal. When cataracts interfere with your everyday activities (such as reading, driving or watching TV) you may need surgery to replace the clouded lens with a clear, artificial one.
Cataract removal is one of the most common, safe and effective operations performed in the United States. Although most cataracts are related to aging, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing them.