Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Eye and Vision Care

What Are Cataracts?

Your eye is like a camera. There is a lens in the front of your eye that is a lot like the lens on a camera. Light passes through the lens to get to the back of your eye. As you get older, so does the lens in your eye. It starts becoming cloudy and dark, and this is what we call a cataract.

Having cataracts is like looking through a foggy window. Your vision might become blurry, and you may have trouble reading or seeing at night.

You can get cataracts in one eye, or both. Cataracts do not spread from one eye to the other.

Who gets cataracts?

Almost everyone gets cataracts as they grow older

You are more likely to get cataracts if you have a history of:

What are the symptoms?

How do I know if I have cataracts?

You might have some of the symptoms in the list above, or you might have no symptoms at all if your cataracts are small. When you go to the eye doctor, he can see your cataract by looking through an instrument called the ophthalmoscope, or by looking through the microscope.

How fast do cataracts grow?

It depends on the type of cataract, but they typically develop over many years. Many people do not notice a change in their vision because it happens so slowly.

Is there anything I can do to prevent cataracts?

There is no way to prevent cataracts. However, you can slow the progression by doing a few things

What are the treatment options?

Early on, better lighting or new glasses may help improve your vision.

The only way to cure cataracts is to do surgery.

You will need cataract surgery to remove your cloudy lens if you can no longer see well enough to do your everyday tasks. You can discuss this with your eye doctor.

Resources

Cataract - University of Michigan Kellog Eye Center

Prepared in partnership with Lily Huang, MD, Class of 2013, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

For more information:

Go to the Eye and Vision Care health topic, where you can:

Last Reviewed: Oct 01, 2012

Suber S Huang, MD, MBA Suber S Huang, MD, MBA
Professor
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University