A cataract is simply a clouding of the lens within the eye. The lens is made mostly of water and protein. Specific proteins within the lens are responsible for maintaining its clarity. Most of us are born with clear lenses, and as you age, the structures of these lens proteins are altered, ultimately leading to a gradual clouding of the lens. Some other factors may lead to cataracts forming earlier in some adults include over exposure to UV light, smoking, diabetes, or the use of certain medications such as oral, topical, or inhaled steroids.
People at risk for developing cataracts are usually 55 or older. Cataract development is usually a very gradual process of normal aging but can occasionally occur rapidly. Many people are in fact unaware that they have cataracts because there is no pain associated with the condition and the changes in their vision are very gradual.
Cataracts are very common, affecting roughly 60% of people over the age of 60. Indications that you may have failing vision due to cataracts include:
Changes in glasses may help initially once vision begins to change because of cataracts but the condition will continue to progress and opacify. Eventually glasses or contact lenses will no longer improve sight. Fortunately, there is a solution to returning to clear vision and that is through the advancement of cataract lens replacement surgery.