A cataract is a medical condition that affects most people sooner or later. It is the most common eye disease and part of the normal aging process. After the age of 50, it is quite probable that the human eye starts to develop some form of cataract. The word cataract is derived from the Latin cataracta, meaning ‘waterfall’ and from the Ancient Greek καταρράκτης (katarrhaktēs), which means ‘down-rushing’. Like water rapidly rushing turns white, the term cataract may have been used metaphorically to describe the effect running time has on the whitening of a lens with advanced cataract progression.
A cataract is caused by a change in the eye that occurs with increasing age. The crystalline lens in the eye is mostly made of water and a protein. Due to a change in that protein structure over time, the natural lens of the eye becomes increasingly cloudy – gradually causing the main symptoms of cataracts.
According to the latest assessment of the World Health Organization (WHO):
At an early stage of cataracts, the crystalline lens starts to become cloudy causing slightly blurred vision. The more the cataract advances, the worse the quality of the image projected onto the retina becomes. Untreated, the cataract may lead to a complete loss of vision.
A cataract starts out slowly with only little influence on your vision. The first sign of cataracts may be when you notice that your vision is a little blurry. It may feel like looking through a cloudy piece of glass or a foggy layer on a window. To detect cataracts at an early stage, it is important to know the most common symptoms.
Common symptoms of cataracts include:
You should consider consulting your doctor about the cataract treatment when it starts affecting your vision and quality of life.