What Is a Cataract?

McFarland Eye Care - Cataract Surgery - What Is A Cataract

In your eye, you have what is called a "lens". The lens allows your brain to see colors and shapes, as well as focus on objects at various distances. While your lens is typically clear, it can become yellowed or opacified due to the aging process, trauma, or congenital manifestation. This yellowing or clouding is called a cataract

Most cataracts develop slowly over time and do not require immediate medical attention. Many patients begin to notice their cataracts when they start to impact their vision. For example, it may become difficult to drive at night, or difficult to see well at a distance. You may also notice that your prescription for glasses changes drastically. These symptoms can decrease mobility and independence, as well as general quality of life. Your eye doctor can help you determine if you have a cataract and when you need to start thinking about cataract surgery. It is always a good idea to see your eye doctor at least once a year.

Here are some common symptoms of cataracts:

  • A gradual deterioration in vision over time
  • Objects may appear yellow, hazy, blurred or distorted
  • Hard to drive at night or see in low light
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • The need for brighter light for reading and other activities
  • Difficult to read small print

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has a cataract vision simulator, located here.