Ophthalmology
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Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. The amount and pattern of cloudiness within the lens can vary.

What causes cataracts?
Cataract development is related to aging of the eye. Other possible causes of cataracts include genetic disorders or medical problems, such as diabetes, injury to the eye, medications, long-term unprotected exposure to sunlight and previous surgery.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?
Painless blurring of vision
Glare or light sensitivity
Prescription changes
Double vision in one eye
Needing brighter light to read
Poor night vision
Fading or yellowing of colors

There are many misconceptions about cataracts. Some are that a cataract is a film over the eye or is caused by overusing the eyes. Additional misconceptions are that a cataract is a cancer or that cataracts spread from one eye to another. Finally, cataracts are not a cause of irreversible blindness.

How are cataracts detected?
A thorough eye examination by your ophthalmologist can detect the presence and extent of a cataract, as well as any other conditions that may be causing blurred vision. There may be other reasons for visual loss in addition to the cataract, particularly problems involving the retina or optic nerve. If these problems are present, perfect vision may not return after cataract surgery. Such conditions may limit the visual potential for the eye. It is important to recognize these problems if they exist because removal of cataracts may not result in any improvement in vision. A Cole Eye Institute ophthalmologist may be able to tell you how much visual improvement is likely following cataract surgery or other treatment.

How are cataracts treated?

The only way to remove a cataract is with cataract surgery. However, if symptoms from the cataract are mild, a change of glasses prescription may be all that is needed for you to function comfortably.

When should cataract surgery be performed?
Cataract surgery should be considered when cataracts cause enough loss of vision to interfere with daily activities.

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