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What is a cataract?


A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye that obstructs normal vision. Typically, your eye’s lenses should be clear, allowing you to see people and objects in crisp focus. Cataracts, though, create a fog-like effect over all or part of the lenses so that things appear blurry and out of focus. 

When your eyes’ lenses are working the way they should, light passes through the cornea (this is the clear dome that sits over the front of your eye) and the pupil (the black hole at the center of the colored iris of your eye) into the lens. The lens is located just behind the iris and the pupil. It focuses light to produce sharp pictures of what you’re seeing on the retina (the membrane on the back wall of your eye). As a cataract develops, the lens becomes clouded and delivers fuzzy images to your retina, causing your vision to be blurry.

Although cataracts can occur in one or both eyes, they are not contagious. Cataracts cannot spread from one eye to the other. Cataracts are not usually painful, but they can be dangerous in the fact that most people who have cataracts complain of trouble seeing while driving, reading or doing most night activities. This is because this condition can often affect distance vision and cause glare problems as well.

How Do Cataracts Develop?

Cataracts develop slowly over time in most cases (the exceptions being trauma and injury). Although they can materialize separately, cataracts typically develop symmetrically in both eyes. They can affect all or only part of the eye’s lens. You might not notice the clouding at first, but as it progresses, your vision can be severely interrupted. The process begins with needing more reading light or eyeglasses, but you may notice that as the cataracts worsen, you begin thinking about cataract surgery to correct the problem.

Who is at Risk for Cataracts?

The most common determinant of cataract surgery patients is age. For older adults, cataracts are surprisingly common. By the age of 80, it is estimated that more than half of the American population will have a cataract or will have had cataract surgery to correct this condition. Cataracts can develop at any age, however, due to a variety of diseases or congenital conditions. Besides aging, some causes of cataracts include:

  • Long-term exposure to ultraviolet light
  • Long-term or short-term exposure to radiation
  • Peripheral effects of certain diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension

There are corrective cataract surgery procedures in New York and New Jersey available for people suffering with this common problem. To learn more about cataract surgery in New York and New Jersey, contact the 5th Ave Eye Center. We have a dedicated team of medical professionals who are skilled at dealing with cataract surgery and will work with you to give you your vision back. All you have to do is set up a consultation in our New York or New Jersey offices today. There is no obligation to have cataract surgery, and you’ll leave with a detailed report of your options.

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