A cataract is a type of damage within the eye lens. Cataracts cause cloudiness in the lens, which negatively impacts the vision as a result.
The people who are at highest risk for cataracts are those who are over the age of 50. About half of all people have at least one cataract before they turn 65. The majority of people who reach age 80 have at least one cataract. Cataracts are rarely seen in young people, although infectious diseases during a pregnancy can cause a baby to be born with cataracts.
Not necessarily. Cataracts that don't cause any symptoms and that don't cause any vision issues may not need to be removed. However, if the cataract begins interfering with clear vision it is likely that the eye doctor will recommend removal. Patients who are diagnosed with cataracts must have regular eye exams to make sure that the condition is monitored and that it can be immediately addressed when it worsens.
Cataract removal is done by an eye surgeon with specific experience in this type of removal. This surgery is typically done with lasers today, which allows for a high level of surgical precision. The eye surgeon will make a small incision through which the damaged eye lens can be removed in small particles. Once the damaged lens (the cataract) is gone, the eye surgeon will implant a new lens. This new lens, the intraocular lens, functions just like the natural lens in every way, and it will mold itself into the eye without stitches. The patient will then be able to see without cloudiness. Cataract removal surgery is one of the most common types of surgery done today, and it is considered to be a safe and effective option for vision correction.