Restoring Sight

A cataract is the clouding of the lens in the eye that has an affect on an individual's vision. Most cataracts are related to increasing age; cataracts are very ordinary in older people. More than half of all Americans, by age 80, either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. A cataract can occur in either or both eyes, but it cannot spread from one eye to the other.

Secondary cataracts can form after a surgery for other eye problems, such as glaucoma. Cataracts also can develop in people who have other health problems, such as diabetes, and are sometimes linked to steroid use. Eye injuries can also cause cataracts to form, this is called Traumatic cataract. Some infants are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes; this is referred to as congenital cataracts. These cataracts may be so small that they do not have an affect on vision. If they do, the lenses may need to be removed.

Signs and symptoms of cataracts include: clouded, blurred or dim vision, seeing "halos" around lights, difficulty with vision at night, double vision in a single eye, yellowing of colors, changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription and sensitivity to light.

The cloudiness in your vision caused by a cataract may affect only a tiny part of the eye's lens and you may be oblivious of any sings of vision loss. As the cataract expands in size, it will cause more clouding of the lens and distort the light passing through the lens. This may lead to signs and symptoms that are more noticeable.

The lens, where cataracts form, is positioned in the back of the colored part of your eye. The lens focuses on light that passes into the eye, creating clear, sharp images on the retina. A cataract scatters the light as it passes throughout the lens, preventing a sharply clear image from reaching the retina. As a result, vision becomes blurred.

As you age, the lenses in the eyes become less flexible, obscured and thicker. Aging-related changes to the lens cause tissues to break down and to cluster together, clouding tiny areas of the lens. As the cataract continues to expand, the clouding becomes denser and has an affect on a greater part of the lens.

Dealing with symptoms of cataracts until an individual decides to have surgery, include: improving the lighting in your home with more or brighter lamps, making sure eyeglasses or contact lenses are the most accurate prescription possible, wear sunglasses or a broad-brimmed hat to reduce glare during the day, use a magnifying glass to read and limit nighttime driving. Self-care actions may help for a while, but as the cataract continues to develop, vision may worsen. When vision loss starts to interfere with everyday activities, cataract surgery should be considered.

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