Conditions InDepth: Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens that causes decreased vision. The lens of the eye focuses light rays onto the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) where an image is recorded. This allows us to see things clearly. The lens of the eye comprises mostly water and protein. The protein is arranged in a way that keeps the lens clear and lets light pass through it. A cataract develops when some of the protein clumps together and starts to cloud an area of the lens. A cataract won't spread from one eye to the other, although many people develop cataracts in both eyes.

Normal Anatomy of the Eye
IMAGE
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
As the cataract matures and gets cloudier, it may become difficult to read and do other normal tasks. Some people with “ripe” cataracts describe their vision as “trying to see through a waterfall.”Many people are not aware that their vision is blurry as cataracts usually progress slowly. That is just one reason why regular comprehensive eye examinations are important.
Cataract
IMAGE
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
The exact cause of this clouding is not known. However, a number of factors are known to contribute to the formation of cataracts, including, but not limited to:
  • Aging—Proteins in the lens change as part of the normal aging process. Aging is the most common contributing cause of cataracts.
  • Smoking
  • Medical conditions, such as diabetes or galactosemia
  • Certain infections
  • Eye disease, or injury or burns of the eye
  • Exposure to radiation, toxins, or certain medications
  • Taking steroid medications for a long period of time
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Birth defect (congenital cataract)
  • Excessive alcohol use
What are the risk factors for cataracts?What are the symptoms of cataracts?How are cataracts diagnosed?What are the treatments for cataracts?Are there screening tests for cataracts?How can I reduce my risk of developing cataracts?What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?What is it like to live with cataracts?Where can I get more information about cataracts?

Advertisement

References

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Researchwebsite. Available at: http://www.mayo.edu.

The Merck Manual of Medical Information. 17th ed. Simon and Schuster, Inc; 2000.

National Eye Institute website. Available at: http://www.nei.nih.gov.

Revision Information

leave comments
0
Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Related Topics:
Current Research From Top Journals


Early Peanut Consumption Associated with Lower Risk of Peanut Allergy in High Risk Children
March 2015

Many medical groups felt that early exposure to certain foods like peanuts increased a child's risk of developing food allergies. However, newer research including this trial suggest that early exposure may actually decrease the risk of developing food allergies.

dot separator
previous editions

Breastfeeding May Decrease the Risk of Childhood Obesity
February 2015

Tonsillectomy May Reduce Number of Sore Throat Days in Children
February 2015

Research Review Finds Little Support for Nearly Half of Medical Talk Show Recommendations
January 2015

dashed separator

Advertisement

Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »

 

Advertisement

Advertisement

DiggDeliciousNewsvineRedditStumbleTechnoratiFacebook