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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    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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    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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    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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    It is important to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any vision problems or changes that may indicate a cataract. In most cases, prescription eyeglasses can help improve your vision, at least for awhile. Eventually, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the cataract.

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    Loss of contrast vision is most frequently the result of a cataract developing in the eye. A cataract develops when the normal lens in the eye starts to become cloudy. This condition is usually associated with age.  Get an eye exam in order to be certain of the cause of this problem.
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    A cataract usually develops slowly and causes no pain. At first, the cloudiness may affect only a small part of the lens and the individual may be unaware of any vision loss. Over time, however, as the cataract grows larger, it clouds more of the lens. When significantly less light reaches the retina, vision becomes impaired.

    Symptoms of a cataract include: clouded, blurred, or dim vision; increasing difficulty with vision at night; sensitivity to light and glare; halos around lights; the need for brighter light for reading and other activities; frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription; fading or yellowing of colors; and double vision in a single eye.

    A cataract is not dangerous to the physical health of the eye unless the cataract becomes completely white, a condition known as an overripe (hypermature) cataract. This can cause inflammation, pain, and headache. A hypermature cataract is very uncommon, but it requires surgical removal if it is associated with inflammation or pain.

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      Older individuals who wear reading eyeglasses sometimes find themselves able to read without their eyeglasses and think their eyesight is improving.

      The truth is they are becoming more nearsighted, which can be a sign of early cataract development.