A cataract is a common condition that causes a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. Cataracts affect millions of people each year, including more than half of all Americans over the age of 65. Cataracts cause progressive, painless loss of vision. The lens cloud naturally as we age, so people over the age of 65 usually see a gradual reduction of vision.
There is no specific cause of cataracts. In younger people, cataracts can result from an injury, certain medications or illnesses such as diabetes. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light may also play a role in the formation of cataracts. Studies have also shown that people who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of developing cataracts than non-smokers.
Patients with cataracts often do not experience any symptoms when the condition first develops. Cataracts will continue to progress with no apparent pain, although patients may experience various symptoms. One symptom commonly experienced by those developing cataracts is frequent changes in eyeglasses or contact lenses.
If left untreated, cataracts will worsen over time and may lead to permanent vision loss or even blindness. It is important to see your eye doctor regularly in order to detect cataracts as early as possible and to plan an effective treatment method.
Although cataract surgery is considered safe, there are certain risks associated with any surgery. Some of these risks may include pain, infection, swelling and bleeding. Most patients undergo this procedure without any complications.