What is a cataract?

When cataracts are mentioned, people often think of a film that grows on their eyes causing them to see double or blurred images. However, a cataract does not form on the eye, but rather within the eye.

A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens, the part of the eye responsible for focusing light and producing clear, sharp images. The lens is contained in a sealed bag or capsule. As old cells die they become trapped within the capsule. Over time, the cells accumulate causing the lens to cloud, making images look blurred or fuzzy. For most people, cataracts are a natural result of aging.

Eye injuries, certain medications, and diseases such as diabetes and alcoholism have also been known to cause cataracts.

Treatment Options

Once a cataract is formed, surgical removal of the clouded lense and replacement with a clear, artificial lense should help restore vision. Cataracts can progress very slowly in which case early symptoms can be often be addressed without surgery and instead providing stronger contact lenses, glasses or bifocals.

Back to Glossary of Other Eye Conditions.