Cataracts: Overview and Risk Factors
Cataracts are extremely common. They affect an estimated 15 million people and are responsible for nearly half of all cases of blindness worldwide.
A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy or opaque. This happens gradually, as proteins in the lens become oxidized. Doctors do not know exactly why this occurs, but they believe that a combination of environmental factors (such as toxins and sunlight exposure) and genetic factors are involved.
Cataracts can occur in specific areas or throughout the lens. The process usually occurs very slowly over the course of years or decades, and it usually affects both eyes.
Cataracts are not painful. The most common symptoms are loss of vision, blurred vision, or double vision. In general, long–distance vision is lost before near vision. Some patients say that they see a halo effect around lights. Others note excessive glare during night driving and in bright light, especially sunlight. Continue reading