What are Cataracts?

When vision becomes cloudy

A cataract is a medical condition that affects most people sooner or later. It is the most common eye disorders 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 this ocular disease. 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, it may be a metaphorical term to describe the effect running time has on the whitening of a lens with advanced cataract progression.

Cataract causes

Cataracts are an eye disorder that occurs typically with increasing age. The crystalline lens in the eye is mostly made of water and protein. Due to a change in that protein structure over time, the natural lens becomes increasingly cloudy – gradually causing the main symptoms of cataracts.

According to the latest assessment of the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • Cataracts are responsible for 51% of world blindness and remains the leading cause of blindness.
  • This represents about 20 million people 
  • Many people over the age of 50 have some form of this eye disorder

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, it may lead to blindness.

Healthy vision
Waht is Cataract - Healthy vision
Vision impaired by cataract
Waht is Cataract - Vision impaired by cataract

Symptoms

Signs to detect a cataract

It starts out slowly with little influence on your sight. 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:

  • Gradual deterioration of vision
  • Hazy or cloudy sight 
  • Faded colour and contrast perception 
  • Increased sensitivity to bright light
  • Frequent changes of glasses prescription

You should consider consulting your doctor about the cataract treatment when it starts affecting your vision and quality of life.


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