Cataracts

Cataracts

Cloudy vision, foggy vision - that's how people describe cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens that happens so gradually you may not really notice it until you have trouble driving at night or difficulty reading. At that point, you may need cataract surgery - a standard procedure that is very effective.

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    Cataracts are a fairly common condition. In fact, nearly one out of every 5 people between ages 65 and 74 suffers from cataracts. Cataracts are the number one cause of blindness in the world, but thankfully, cataract surgery is a relatively safe procedure that can successfully remove cataracts and restore a person's vision.

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    An eye doctor, usually an ophthalmologist, starts by taking a complete medical history. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and determine if you are at risk for cataracts-for example, if you are over age 40 or have diabetes.

    Next the physician performs a visual acuity exam. This is where you read a vision chart to measure how far off you are from the standard 20/20, and how the latest result compares to your last eye exam.

    Finally, the doctor will dilate (open) your pupils with eyedrops and examine your eyes using an ophthalmoscope and a slit lamp.

    Taken together, the results will help your doctor determine whether you have cataracts and if the cataracts have advanced.

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    Your family history determines the probability that your children will be born with cataracts. Genetic counseling is a very good idea prior to deciding to have children.
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    Most infantile cataracts are idiopathic and isolated, which simply means that there is not an identifiable cause for the cataract and the child has no other abnormalities. A smaller group of children do have an identifiable cause. Most in this group are due to infection, various syndromes, or they are inherited from parents. An eye doctor will determine if further evaluation is needed prior to making treatment recommendations.
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    A , Ophthalmology, answered
    Cataracts are very uncommon in children and many are partial and don't require intervention at all. If they cause significant opacity then they can be removed, one eye at a time, to restore vision.
    Cataracts in children can be more problematic as a child must develop good vision in the first five years of life. If good vision is impaired by a cataract there is concern that the child may never develop normal vision in the eye that is obstructed by a cataract. Hence any child with even a small cataract needs to be followed by an eye doctor to be sure that normal vision development is occurring despite the cataract. If normal vision does not develop then the eye is unable to see normally and is called a lazy eye (amblyopia). Generally after age 5 years a lazy eye is unable to improve.
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    Children can develop cataracts, but the condition is much more common in older adults. In some cases, infants are born with cataracts, known as congenital cataracts. These may be the result of an illness of the mother during pregnancy or a genetic condition, and doctors can remove them right away if necessary. In addition, children who have experienced an eye injury or illness may develop cataracts as well.

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    Cataracts develop gradually over time, forming a cloudy layer on the lens of the eye. The lens is found behind the iris, the colored area of the eye. The lens works by focusing the light that comes through your eye so that you can see clear, distinct images. However, as a cataract develops, it interferes with the way light passes through the eye, causing your vision to become more and more blurry.

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    Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world; however, surgery to remove cataracts is usually quite safe and effective. Possible complications from cataract surgery include eye infections or bleeding. Surgery also increases a person's risk for suffering from a detached retina, although this is rare. In some cases, people will experience a blurring of their vision after cataract surgery, known as a secondary cataract, but this is treatable.

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    Cataracts affect men and women in much the same way. In general, the condition is quite common. Nearly one out of every five people from the ages of 65 to 74 has a cataract.

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    In some cases, other illnesses or conditions may play a role in a person's development of cataracts. Although not as common, infants and children can suffer from cataracts. Infants born with cataracts (congenital cataracts) may have them as the result of an illness of their mother during pregnancy or a genetic condition. Eye infections and diseases like diabetes also raise a person's risk for developing cataracts.