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A cataract is a cloud over the lens of the eye. The lens of the eye is what you use to focus with so if there is anything covering it, it will cause cloudy vision.
Cataracts are usually associated with the aging process and normally occur in people 55 and older. Sometimes a cataract may be present from birth as a congenital abnormality, or can occur as part of a metabolic disorder.
Older children can also have cataracts, often the result of injury or an inflammatory condition such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
There are several different types of cataracts:
Nuclear Cataract – in the center of the lens
Cortical Cataract – occurs at the layer of the lens surrounding the nucleus (the innermost layer of the lens)
Posterior Capsular Cataract – affects the back outer layer of the lens
Secondary Cataract – develops after eye surgery or illnesses such as diabetes
Congenital Cataract – present from birth, or develops in the first months of life
Traumatic Cataract – develops after an injury
Radiation Cataract – develops after exposure to radiation
Symptoms of Cataracts
• Blurred vision
• Duller looking colors and difficulty distinguishing colors
• Increased sensitivity to glare from traffic, street lights etc
• Difficulty seeing at night
• Double vision
An eye test to see how well you see at varying distances will be performed. You will also be given eye drops that dilate your pupils so the opthamologist can examine your retina and optic nerve. The drops may sting and cause blurred vision for several hours afterwards.
The opthamologist may also measure the pressure inside the eye with a special instrument. This is called tonometry, which is usually done with a local anaesthetic.
Treatment depends on how severe your cataracts are. If they cause only mild vision disturbance, then wearing glasses or getting new glasses or contact lenses may help. Anti-glare sunglasses help to reduce glare from street lights and traffic when travelling at night.
Surgery can also help in some cases.