A cataract is an opacity or clouding of the crystalline lens that may develop as a result of aging, some medications such as steroids, metabolic disorders like diabetes, trauma, or heredity. Cataracts typically develop slowly and progressively, causing a gradual and painless decrease in vision. Things can look blurry, hazy, or even less colorful.
Vision changes you may notice if you have a cataract
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Extra sensitivity to light
- Trouble seeing well at night
- Needing more light when you read
- Decrease in color intensity (Seeing bright colors as faded)
- Yellowing of images
Reducing one’s exposure to ultraviolet light by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses may reduce the risk of developing a cataract, but, once one has developed, there is no cure except to have the cataract surgically removed.
The only effective treatment for cataract is surgical removal of the cloudy lens. With a single outpatient surgical procedure, an ophthalmologist can remove the cataract through a small, self-sealing incision. Usually, a synthetic intraocular lens is inserted at the time of cataract extraction to replace the focusing power of the natural lens. The time to have cataract surgery is when the cataract is affecting one’s vision enough to interfere with normal daily activities.
Cataract surgery is a very successful operation. One and a half million people have this procedure every year in the United States, and 95% plus have a successful result. As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur during or after surgery, and some are severe enough to limit vision. But, in most cases, vision, as well as the quality of life, improve dramatically.