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What are Cataracts?

A cataract is an opacity or clouding of the eye's lens, which blocks or changes the passage of light needed for vision. The lens of the eye is located behind the pupil and the colored iris, and normally is transparent. Its role is to help focus images onto the retina at the back of the eye, which transmits the images to the brain. Vision can become blurred or dimmed because light cannot be transmitted properly through the lens to the retina.

Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness among adults in the United States, accounting for one out of every seven cases of blindness in people age 45 and older. Although most prevalent in adults, a cataract can occur in young people, and can sometimes be found in a baby's eyes at birth.  

The symptoms of a cataract all revolve around diminished vision:

  • blurred vision, double vision, ghost images, the impression of a "film" over the eyes;

  • problems with light, such as finding lights not bright enough for reading or near work, or being "dazzled" by intense light; and

  • the need for frequent changes of eyeglass prescriptions, which may not improve vision.

The treatment for a cataract is surgery, which offers a safe and successful means to restore vision in more than 95 out of 100 cases.

Related Articles:

Signs of Possible Eye Trouble in Adults
January: Glaucoma Awareness Month
Family Eye Health: Protect the Gift of Sight
Workplace Eye Safety
January is National Eye Care Month

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