What Is Cataract?

Cataract is any opacity of the lens of the eye. It may or may not affect vision. Cataract is the major cause of blindness and visual impairment worldwide.

The eye functions much like a camera. Light rays enter the eye, passing through the cornea, the aqueous humor and then the pupil and into the lens.The lens bends the light rays to focus objects onto the retina lining the back of the eye.

From there, the image passes through the retinal cells, into the optic nerve, and finally to the back of the brain which process the images. Cataracts occur when there is a build-up of protein in the lens that makes it cloudy. This prevents light from passing clearly through the lens, causing some loss of vision.

Normal eyes

Bilateral Cataract


Normal Vision Vision with Cataract

Causes/Risk Factors for cataract

  • Age-related cataracts. As the name suggests, this type of cataract develops as a result of aging.
  • Congenital cataracts. Babies are sometimes born with cataracts as a result of an infection, injury, or poor development before they were born, or they may develop during childhood.
  • Secondary cataracts. These develop as a result of other medical conditions, like diabetes, or exposure to toxic substances, certain drugs (such as corticosteroids or diuretics), ultraviolet light, or radiation.
  • Traumatic cataracts. These form after injury to the eye.
  • Orders. Cigarette smoke and heavy alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing cataract.

Symptoms of Cataract

  • Vision may be cloudy, blurry or foggy.
  • Progressive nearsightedness in older people often called "second sight" because they may no longer need reading glasses.
  • Changes in the way you see color because the discolored lens acts as a filter.
  • Problems driving at night such as glare from oncoming headlights.
  • Problems with glare during the day.
  • Double vision.
  • Sudden changes in glasses prescription.

How Are Cataract diagnosed?

To make the diagnosis of cataract, a text will be done to see how well the eye is seeing. The Doctor will examine the whole eye and the pupil will be dilated with eye drops in order to examine the condition of the lens and other parts of the eye.

How to Treat Cataract

Many options are available for the treatment of cataract. The doctor will let you know the best option for you after the examination of your eye. If your vision can be corrected to an acceptable level with eyeglasses, including bifocals or contacts, same will be prescribed for you and there will not be need for surgery.

If your vision loss cannot be corrected with new glasses and cataracts interfere with your daily life, you may be a candidate for cataract surgery, which involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a clear, artificial one (intra-ocular lens). It should be noted that during the surgery, only the lens will removed not the eye. 

Cataract surgery is usually conducted on an outpatient basis and is very successful in restoring vision. It is the most frequently performed surgery in Eye Foundation Hospital.

How Can Cataract Be Prevented?

Cataract can be prevented in some cases if the causes/risk factors discussed above can be avoided. To some extent, the exact cause of cataracts is uncertain and there is no proven method of preventing them.

Because cataracts and other conditions such as glaucoma are common in older adults, it's important to have your eyes examined on a regular basis. 

It is important for adults to have the eyes examined annually and should be more frequent for those that have other risks factors like glaucoma, diabetes, short-sightedness and others.