What is a Cataract ?

Vision with Cataract


A cataract is a clouding that develops in the eye's crystalline lens or in its envelope, varying in degree from slight to complete opacity and obstructing the passage of light. The lens works much like a camera lens, focusing light onto the retina to see things clearly both up close and far away.
It is mostly made of water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and lets light pass through it.
But as we age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. This is a cataract, and over time, it may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see.

 Cataract surgery


Cataracts are classified as one of three types:

Signs and Symptoms of Cataract

A cataract has at first little effect on your vision. You may notice that your vision is a bit blurred, like looking through a cloudy piece of glass.
A cataract may make light from the sun or a lamp seem too bright or glaring. Or you may notice when you drive at night that the oncoming headlights cause more glare than before. Colours may not appear as bright as they did before.
The type of cataract you have will affect exactly which symptoms you experience and how soon they occur. When a nuclear cataract first develops it can bring a temporary improvement in your near vision, called "second sight". Unfortunately, the improved vision is short-lived and will disappear as the cataract develops. On the other hand, a subcapsular cataract may not produce any symptoms until it's well-developed. If you think you have a cataract, see an eye doctor for an exam to make sure. Hazy or blurred vision may mean you have a cataract.

What Causes a Cataract ?

Many studies verify that exposure to ultraviolet light is associated with cataract development, so eye care practitioners recommend wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to reduce your exposure.
Other types of radiation may also be causes. A 2005 study conducted in Iceland suggests that airline pilots have a higher risk of developing a nuclear cataract than non-pilots and that the cause may be exposure to cosmic radiation. A similar theory suggests that astronauts are also at risk from cosmic radiation.
Other studies prove people with diabetes are at risk of developing a cataract.

The same goes for users of steroids, diuretics and major tranquilizers, as well as smoking, air pollution and heavy alcohol consumption.
A small study found lead exposure to be a risk factor, but larger studies are needed to confirm whether lead can definitely put you at risk and, if so, whether the risk is from a one-time dose at a particular time in life or from chronic exposure over years.
Researchers say additional studies also are needed to confirm whether hormone replacement therapy (HRT) significantly increases chances that cataracts will form and progress to the point that surgical removal is required.

Cataract Treatment

When symptoms begin to appear you may be able to improve your vision for a while using new glasses, strong bifocals, magnification, appropriate lighting or other visual aids.
An intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted in the eye in place of the clouded natural lens. It filters out blue light, which may be harmful to eyes.
Think about surgery when your cataracts have progressed enough to impair your vision seriously and affect your daily life. Many people consider poor vision an inevitable fact of aging, but cataract surgery is a simple, relatively painless procedure to regain vision.
Cataract surgery is very successful in restoring vision. In fact, it is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States, with more than 3 million Americans undergoing cataract surgery each year. Nine out of 10 people who have cataract surgery regain very good vision, somewhere between 50% and 100%. During surgery the surgeon will remove your clouded lens and, in most cases, replace it with a clear, plastic intraocular lens (IOL).

Success and post-operative complications

Cataract Surgery complications and problems after Cataract removal are generally pretty rare and are usually less than 5% in an otherwise healthy group of patients. In patients with additional eye diseases such as Glaucoma or Diabetic Retinopathy the complication rate may increase. Nonetheless the overall success rate for Cataract Surgery is generally regarded as being between 85-92% with overall patient satisfaction being in the 95% range. As with any surgery, patients should be familiar with possible complications so that they can bring any unusual symptoms or signs to the attention of their Cataract Surgeon in order to avoid potential complications of Cataract Surgery, Cataract Surgery problems or unusual side-effects after Cataract removal.

Short term Cataract Surgery problems and complications are those that we will define as occurring during, or very soon after, the actual surgical procedure-perhaps within the first 24 hours after surgery.


Long term Cataract Surgery problems and complications are those that we will define as occurring from one week to as long as six months after Cataract Surgery.

Problems and complications of Cataract Surgery are unusual if not rare. The overall success rate and patient satisfaction with Cataract Surgery make it a very safe and effective treatment for Cataracts. Nonetheless, those undergoing Cataract removal with Cataract Surgery and Lens Implants should become familiar with the possible, albeit unusual complications.

The information that has been provided here is intended to give patients an overview of the possible complications of Cataract Surgery. It is possible that your individual experience might be different. None of the information provided here is meant to be a substitute or replace your physician's consultation, nor does it replace the need for you to consult with your surgeon about specific details of Cataract Surgery complications.