Cataract Q&A

What is Cataract?
Chesapeake Eye CenterA cataract is a decrease in clarity of the eye’s natural lens. It blocks or changes the passage of light needed for sight.

What is the cause of Cataract?
The cause of cataract formation has not yet been found, although we do know that a cataract is linked with chemical changes in the lens. (most often a cataract is part of the normal aging process). Other factors that may play a role include:

  • Exposure to intense heat or long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV rays) from the sun
  • Inflammation within the eye
  • Hereditary influences and perinatal events, such as German measles in the mother
  • Some medications, such as long-term steroid therapy
  • Physical and chemical injury to the eye
  • Eye diseases and certain systemic diseases, including diabetes

What are the symptoms?
Cataracts generally do not cause pain, redness, or tearing. Cataract symptoms show up as changes in vision:

    • Blurred vision, double vision, ghost images, the impression of a “film” over the eyes
    • Problems with light, such as finding lights too dim for reading or near work, or being “dazzled” by intense light
    • The need for frequent changes of eyeglass prescriptions, which may not improve vision

One eye doctor described it this way, “you need more light on your work but less light near your eyes.”

Is Cataract contagious?
A cataract is not contagious. It is not an infection or tissue growing over the eye. Using the eyes will not make the cataract worse. A cataract may develop quickly over a few months or very slowly over a period of years.

What can be done if I have a Cataract?
Other than surgical removal of the cataract, there are no proven treatments, eye drops, or other medications that will dissolve a cataract or slow down its progression. It is a delicate operation, yet it is one of the safest operations done today with a 95% success rate. Doctors Smoot, Bescak, or Yonker can discuss your surgical options for maximizing your vision to suit your lifestyle needs!