A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens. As this normally clear lens gets cloudy, it decreases your ability to see well. A cataract can make objects appear blurry. It can also make colors seem less bright.
Your eye’s natural lens is located directly behind the pupil and is made up of mostly water and protein. As you get older, the protein parts of the lens can begin to clump together. These clumps start small but grow larger over time. The bigger they get, the more they can compromise your vision.
Cataracts are a common condition, especially for older people. Cataracts typically begin developing in people age 40 years and older but don’t usually begin to impair vision until after age 60. However, younger people can develop cataracts, too. These juvenile cataracts (in children) can be caused by a genetic mutation that affects proteins, by metabolic disorders or by trauma (eye injury).
The symptoms of cataracts are similar to those for myopia (near-sightedness). These symptoms may begin as minor annoyances and progress over time to impair vision. You may feel symptoms in both eyes or only one eye. They include:
- Blurry or cloudy vision
- Faded colors
- Poor night vision with halos around streetlights and car headlights
- Light sensitivity in daylight or to bright lights at night
- Double vision
- Frequent changes to your prescription for glasses or contacts
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your eye doctor. If your symptoms include a sudden change in vision, sudden eye pain or a sudden headache, you should contact your doctor immediately.
Once a cataract has developed, there is no cure except to have it surgically removed. With a routine, outpatient surgical procedure in Medford, your doctor can remove the cataract using a small incision. A synthetic intraocular lens (IOL) is usually 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 your vision enough to interfere with your normal lifestyle.