Q. WHAT IS A CATARACT?
A. Inside the eye, there is a lens which helps us to focus on what we see. As a part of the normal aging process, the lens can slowly become cloudy. This cloudiness of the lens is called a cataract. In some people, the cloudiness can become severe enough that it decreases vision. In other words, the cataract has become visually significant.
Q. WHO GETS CATARACT?
A. Most people who develop cataracts are older than age 60. The cataract forms as part of the normal aging process. Two conditions which may cause the development of cataract earlier than age 60 are diabetes and injury to the eye. Certain medications such as steroids may also cause cataract formation.
Q. HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A CATARACT?
A. People who have cataracts often notice a decrease in their vision. For example, they may have difficulty reading or driving. Another common problem is glare. Because of glare, people with cataracts may find it harder to see when there are bright lights on, such as when looking at the oncoming headlights of a car. An eye physician can tell if you have a cataract by examining your eyes.
Q. HOW ARE CATARACTS TREATED?
A. People often think that cataracts can be removed with a laser. This is not true. Cataracts cannot be removed with a laser. In addition, there is no medicine one can take to treat a cataract. Cataracts are treated by microscopic surgery. In cataract micro-surgery, a tiny incision is made in the eye and the cloudy lens is removed through this opening. A clear, plastic lens is then put in the eye to REPLACE the cloudy lens. Following cataract surgery, most people will experience substantial improvement in their vision.