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Cataract Information

On this page:
What is a cataract? - (CAT-ah-rackt)
Early cataract formation
Moderate cataract formation
Advanced cataract formation
Diabetic cataract
Congenital cataract
Tramatic cataract
On other pages:
How does a cataract affect vision?
How fast does a cataract grow?
When should a cataract be removed?
Aspin, Vitamins, and your cataract
Lasers and cataract surgery
Mevacor and cataracts
Day surgery
Small incision - no stitch cataract surgery
Sutures and cataract surgery
Painless no needles
Extracapsular extraction


WHAT IS A CATARACT (CAT-ah-rackt)?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. The word cataract is derived from a Greek word meaning "waterfall" (looking through falling water). Cataracts are most commonly caused by chemical changes within the lens of the eye, which is thought to be part of the natural aging process. But cataracts may also result from ultraviolet damage, heredity, alcohol, smoking, trauma, disease, or prolonged use of certain medications.

Depending on the degree of cloudiness, a cataract will cause a gradual decrease in vision. The rate at which a cataract develops is highly variable. Nearly half of the population over 65 will have some degree of cataract formation in their lifetime. It is not a tumor or a growth, nor is it a film over the eye that can be peeled away. In advanced cases, vision can only be restored by surgical removal of the cataract. Routine medical eye examination is necessary to diagnose this common condition.

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EARLY CATARACT FORMATION
My examination noted that you have the first signs of cataract formation. A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. The word cataract is derived from a Greek word meaning "waterfall" (looking through falling water). Nearly half the population over 65 will have some degree of cataract formation in their lifetime. Cataracts are most commonly caused by natural chemical and aging changes within the lens of the eye, but may also result from ultraviolet damage, heredity, trauma, alcohol, smoking, disease, or prolonged use of certain medications.

Cataract formation is not a disease of the eye and presently no proven method of prevention exists. We are now learning, however, that ultraviolet protection placed within your spectacle eyewear and sunwear is important to help prevent cumulative photochemical damage to the lens from solar and manmade sources.

With time, this condition will cause a gradual decrease in vision and subtle changes in colors, resulting from the clouding of the normally clear lens inside your eye. It is too early to predict the likelihood of surgical treatment. More frequent medical examination is advised to monitor cataract progression and to maintain optimum visual function. common condition.

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MODERATE CATARACT FORMATION
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. The word cataract is derived from a Greek word meaning "waterfall" (looking through falling water). Nearly half of the population over 65 will have some degree of cataract formation in their lifetime. Cataracts are most commonly caused by chemical changes within the lens of the eye, which is thought to be part of the natural aging process. But cataracts may also result from ultraviolet damage, heredity, alcohol, smoking, trauma, disease, or prolonged use of certain medications.

With time, this condition will cause a gradual decrease in vision. A cataract is not a disease of the eye and presently there is no proven method of prevention. We are now learning, however, that ultraviolet protection placed within spectacle eyewear and sunwear is important to help prevent cumulative photochemical damage to the lens from solar and manmade sources. With time, this condition causes a gradual decrease in vision and color discrimination, resulting from the clouding of the normally clear lens inside your eye. Since perfect 20/20 eyesight is no longer possible in your affected eye(s), I advise caution while driving, especially at night, and the use of a brighter light while reading.

It is too early to predict future cataract advancement. Surgical treatment may be necessary, depending upon the future severity of your visual symptoms. Frequent examination is now necessary to carefully monitor cataract progression and to maintain optimum visual function.

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ADVANCED CATARACT FORMATION
Although advanced cataract formation this process has been gradual, the clouding of the crystalline lens inside your eye can now cause a significant decrease in visual ability.

Spectacle eyeglass correction will no longer provide adequate vision in your affected eye(s). Cataract surgery is likely in the near future.



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Diabetic cataract
If you have a personal history of diabetes, you are more prone to developing cataracts. Diabetics will commonly develop a very gradual darkening of the lens of the eye similar to routine age-related cataracts. However, in special cases, they may develop a rapidly growing cataract in both eyes leading to a rapid deterioration of vision.

As you know, diabetes can adversely affect many parts of the eye.

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Congential Cataract
We are all born with tiny opacities in the lens of our eye, which generally do not impair our vision. Some children, however, are born with cloudiness of the lens of their eye (cataract), which makes it difficult or impossible for them to see clearly. If the cloudiness is severe enough, surgical removal of the cataract is necessary to help prevent other medical problems of the eye such as amblyopia (lazy eye), nystagmus (involuntary movement of the eye) and iritis (inflammation inside the eye).

There are many types of congenital cataracts. Frequently, they may be associated with hereditary disorders such as Down's syndrome. Less frequently, they may be caused by metabolic disorders and also by infections that the mother had during pregnancy. In order to prevent permanent loss of vision (amblyopia), congenital cataracts should be removed as soon as it is apparent that a child's vision is significantly impaired. As you would expect with any surgical procedure, the period of postoperative care can be quite difficult. In addition, it is likely that your child will require contact lenses after surgery to correct vision adequately. This will also require patience for both parent and child.

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TRAUMATIC CATARACT
On examination today, I noted that you have cataract formation. Since a cataract is cloudiness of the lens inside your eye, it will cause some degree of blurred vision. As discussed, your cataract was most likely caused by an injury to your eye. It is common for trauma to the eye to cause a cataract months or even years later.

Gradually, the lens of your eye will become cloudy. If the trauma to your eye caused a tear in the capsule or outer layer of the lens, the lens material will seep out and cause severe inflammation of the eye and possibly glaucoma. As a result, frequent examination is required to monitor this condition.

If your cataract matures causing an unacceptable blur to your vision, I may recommend that you have your cataract removed. In most cases, the surgical procedure for traumatic cataract is similar to the surgical procedure for conventional age-related cataract; however, the complication rate of cataract surgery after trauma is somewhat higher than if you had not had an injury to your eye. In general, as with all other forms of cataract surgery, clear vision is likely to be restored without complication.

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