Print Email

What is Cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging.  By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. A cataract can occur in either or both eyes. It cannot spread from one eye to the other.

Normal vision. Vision with cataracts.


Are there other types of cataracts?

Yes. Although most cataracts are related to aging, there are other types of cataract:

  1. Secondary cataract. Cataracts that form after surgery for other eye problems, such as glaucoma. Cataracts also can develop in people who have other health problems, such as diabetes, or steroid use.
  2. Traumatic cataract. Cataracts can develop after an eye injury, sometimes years later.
  3. Congenital cataract. Some individuals are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes. These cataracts may be so small that they do not affect vision. If they do, the lenses may need to be removed.
  4. Radiation cataract. Cataracts developed after radiation exposure

How are Cataracts Treated?

Cataracts can be removed surgically.The surgeon makes a tiny incision and inserts a long, thin instrument that breaks up the cloudy lens with ultrasound waves and suctions the pieces out of the eye. A clear plastic lens is then placed in the eye. The incision is so small that stitches usually are not needed