A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. The lens focuses light rays on the retina at the back of the eye to produce a sharp image of what we see. When the lens becomes cloudy, the light rays cannot easily pass through it, and the image becomes blurry.
Cataracts usually develop as part of the aging process, but can also come from:
The cataract may need no treatment at all if the vision is only a little blurry. A change in your eyeglass prescription may improve vision for a while. There are no medications, eye drops, exercises or glasses that will cause cataracts to disappear once they have formed. When you are not able to see well enough to do the things you like to do, cataract surgery is the only way to improve your vision. Cataracts cannot be removed with a laser, only through a surgical incision. In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed from the eye. In most cases, the focusing power of the natural lens is restored by replacing it with a permanent intraocular lens implant.
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Once you and your ophthalmologist have decided that you will have your cataract removed, a physical examination by your family doctor is necessary so that he or she may be alerted to any special medical risks. Ask your ophthalmologist if you should continue your usual medications. Your eye will be measured to determine the proper power of the intraocular lens that will be placed in your eye during surgery.
Over 95% of cataract surgeries improve vision, but a small number of patients may have problems such as infection, bleeding or swelling. Even if the surgery itself is successful, the eye may still not see as well as you would like. Other problems such as macular degeneration, glaucoma or diabetic damage may limit vision after surgery. Even with such problems, cataract surgery may be worthwhile.