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What is a Cataract?

The lens inside the eye sits behind the pupil and focuses light entering the eye onto the retina in the back of the eye.  
A normal lens is crystal clear, but with aging  may become cloudy and discolored.  A lens that is no longer clear is called a "cataract."  (In the picture to the right, the lens is cloudy and yellow,  representing a cataract).

What causes a Cataract?
Most cataracts are the result of normal aging changes within the eye.  Some cataracts may be the result of previous trauma to the eye or previous eye surgery. Long-term use of steroid medication can also lead to cataracts. 

What are the symptoms of a Cataract?

-blurring of vision
-distortion or ghost images
-increasing glare, especially in bright 
 sunlight or while driving at night
-fading or yellowing of colors


How are Cataracts treated?

If you have an early cataract, a change in glasses may help for awhile.  If your vision becomes blurry enough to interfere with daily activities cataract surgery may be an option.


What is Cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is performed when your vision is causing difficulties with everyday activities- reading, driving, seeing TV, handiwork, golf.  Cataract surgery involves removing the lens of the eye.  This is performed with an ultrasound instrument which breaks up the cloudy lens into small fragments which are then suctioned out of the eye.  An intraocular lens is then implanted to replace the natural lens.  Modern cataract surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure with minimal restrictions during the healing period.

  photos courtesy of National Eye Institute, NIH