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About Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens and is the leading cause of blindness worldwide, and the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. Cataracts can occur at any age because of a variety of causes, and can be present at birth. Although treatment for the removal of cataract is widely available, access barriers such as insurance coverage, treatment costs, patient choice, or lack of awareness about cataracts prevent many people from receiving the proper treatment.

An estimated 20.5 million (17.2%) Americans aged 40 years and older have cataract in one or both eyes, and 6.1 million (5.1%) have had their lens removed operatively. The total number of people who have cataracts is estimated to increase to 30.1 million by 2020.

Cataract Vision

If you experience one of more of these symptoms, you may have cataracts:

To fully understand how cataracts can affect your vision, it’s important to know how the eye functions:

1. When you look at an object, what you are really seeing are light rays reflecting off that object.
2. These light rays enter your eyes through the cornea.
3. Light then passes through your lens, which focuses it on the retina.
4. The retina converts this image into electrical signals that are interpreted by your brain.

While all the parts of your eye play a part in your vision, the clarity of your focus vision is, for the most part, the job of the lens. Because a cataract is a clouding of the lens, which is a natural part of the aging process, there is a good chance you may have some form of cataracts. When a lens becomes clouded with a cataract, it prevents light and images from reaching the retina. Vision with cataracts has been described as seeing life through a cloudy window – objects become blurred, colors become dull and seeing at night becomes much more difficult. Thankfully, modern cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgical procedures performed today. More than 3 million cataract surgeries are performed in the United States every year, with the vast majority of these procedures producing excellent visual outcomes.

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