A cataract is clouding of the lens in the eye. This is a common occurrence as we get older, in fact a majority of people over 60 have a degree of cataract formation. The clouding can take place in various parts of the lens, which will also have a different effect on vision. For example clouding in the middle of the lens can be associated with an increase in short-sightedness, clouding at the back of the lens can severely reduce vision for what appears to be a minimal cataract.
Cataracts are associated with many causes. The main cause is simply increasing age, although there is an increased risk in certain medical problems eg diabetes, and also when some medications are taken for a long time eg steroids. There is also an increased risk of cataract development after an eye injury, particularly if the eye is damaged.
Although there can be many causes, there is really only one treatment and that is surgery. Normally the cataract is allowed to develop until it is significantly affecting the persons sight before surgery is suggested. With modern techniques the results of surgery are very good, restoring sight mostly to what it was before the cataract developed. Often not needing optical correction for distance vision. However, because the lens is required to focus for near and it is the lens that is removed during the operation, an optical correction for near will be required.
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