What is Cataract?

Inside our eyes, we have a natural lens. The lens bends (refracts) light rays that come into the eye to help us see. When this natural lens becomes cloudy, it is called cataract. Vision feels like looking through a foggy or dusty car windshield. Things look blurry, hazy or less colorful with a cataract.

In a healthy eye, light enters the eye and passes through a clear lens. In cataract, the lens becomes cloudy and blocks light from passing through. This causes blurred vision.

As you get older, your eyes start to age and may form cataracts. While people above the age of 45 are at a greater risk, cataract can sometimes occur in children. Luckily, both adult and childhood cataracts can be treated.

What causes Cataract?

  • Aging – People over age 60 usually start to have some clouding of their lenses. However, vision problems may not happen until years later.
  • Genetics – Having parents, brothers, sisters or other family members who have had cataracts.
  • Medical Conditions – People suffering from certain medical problems such as diabetes.
  • Injuries – Having had an eye injury, eye surgery or radiation treatments on your upper body.
  • UV Rays – Having spent a lot of time in the sun, especially without sunglasses that protect your eyes from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Medications – Prolonged use of certain medications such as corticosteroids, which may cause early formation of cataracts.

What are the symptoms of Cataract?

  • Cloudy or blurry vision
  • Extra sensitivity to light
  • Poor night vision
  • Cloudy pupil
  • Seeing bright colors as faded
  • Seeing double (two images instead of one)
  • Glare from headlights, lamps, or sunlight, with a halo around the lights in some cases

How is Cataract diagnosed?

Your ophthalmologist will examine and test your eyes to make a cataract diagnosis.
This comprehensive eye exam will include dilation. This means eye drops will be put in your eyes to widen your pupils.

Slit-lamp examination
Your ophthalmologist will examine your cornea, iris, lens and the other areas at the front of the eye. The special slit-lamp microscope makes it easier to spot abnormalities.

Retinal examination
When your eye is dilated, the pupils are wide open so the doctor can more clearly see the back of the eye. Using the slit lamp, an ophthalmoscope or both, the doctor looks for signs of cataract. Your ophthalmologist will also look for glaucoma, and examine the retina and optic nerve.

Refraction and Visual acuity test
This test assesses the sharpness and clarity of your vision. Each eye is tested individually for the ability to see letters of varying sizes.