What are Cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the lens of your eye. Cataracts are caused by protein build-up within your eyes that makes your vision blurry or cloudy. They often develop gradually, and you may not notice any difference in your vision at first. Eventually, it may seem as if you’re looking through a cloudy piece of glass.

Symptoms

Cataracts can be symptom-free at first, but over time can cause increasingly cloudy or blurry vision. They can also intensify glare, making it particularly uncomfortable to look at bright lights. There are several different kinds of cataracts, and each have varying symptoms. Most people notice increasingly blurry or cloudy vision, have trouble seeing at night, find that colors appear faded, or have increased sensitivity to light.

Causes

The lens inside the eye is made of mostly water and protein. Most cataracts are age-related, so they are much more common in older people. And, as you age, some of the protein may clump together, causing a small area of the lens to become cloudy. Over time, your vision may get worse as the protein builds and clouds more of the lens. Besides advancing age, other risk factors for cataracts include: sun exposure and other UV radiation; hypertension, diabetes, and obesity; smoking and alcohol consumption; a previous eye surgery or injury; or a family history of cataracts.

If you have cataracts but experience no symptoms, or the effect on your vision is mild, treatment may not be needed. If your cataracts start to affect day-to-day activities, surgery to replace the cloudy lens can help restore your vision.

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