What is a Cataract?

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The Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Cataracts

Cataract ExampleIt’s estimated that 20 million people over age 40 in the U.S. have cataracts. At Sweeney Eye Associates, cataract surgery and diagnosis is one of our specialties. In fact, Dr. Sweeney has received specialized training in cataract surgery, ensuring you’re in the best hands when it comes to addressing this common vision problem.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts are a common eye condition characterized by clouding of the eye’s lens, the transparent film that focuses the images as seen by the eye on the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye. This condition usually occurs when proteins form abnormal clumps in the lens. When these clumps enlarge, they begin to interfere with vision by distorting the passage of light through the lens. The result is an increasing cloudiness that affects vision, especially at night.

What are the causes of cataracts?

The effects of aging, combined with lifelong sun exposure, cause cataracts to develop usually beginning around age 40. The cloudiness progresses slowly, not usually affecting vision until after the age of 60. Other contributing factors to the development of cataracts are smoking, eye trauma, chronic diabetes, radiation treatments, and corticosteroid medications. Cataracts can be present in infants at birth, usually due to infection, but those cases are very rare.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

Typically, cataracts manifest no symptoms until the protein clumps have grown large enough to affect the patient’s vision. Because the development is very gradual, patients often don’t realize they have cataracts. But when they reach a certain point of development, various symptoms will show themselves: cloudy, blurry vision; double vision; seeing halos around lights; inability to see bright color; increased sensitivity to glare; and distortion, which can be akin to looking at the world through a veil.