A cataract is a common condition that causes a clouding of the eye’s lens, and affects millions of people each year, including more than half of all Americans over the age of 65. The natural lens inside the eye is clear at birth, but as we age it yellows and hardens. The cloudy lens tends to progress with time and may interfere with the ability to drive, read, or watch TV. This condition is called a cataract, and is usually a result of the natural aging process. Since a cataract affects the clarity of the lens, it prohibits light from passing through easily, causing the retina to receive blurred or distorted images. Everyone will develop cataracts at some point, usually after age 60.
While more common in older people, cataracts may also be caused by injury, certain drugs or may be inherited. With cataracts a change of glasses can sometimes help, but eventually surgery is required to restore vision. Corrective cataract surgery can be undertaken when a patient is unhappy with their ability to see and the surgeon has decided cataract removal will be beneficial.