A cataract is a clouding of the usually transparent lens of the eye. People with cataracts see through a frozen or fogged window. Blurred vision caused by cataracts can make it difficult to read, drive (especially at night), or visit the expression on a friend’s face.

Most cataracts develop slowly and do not interfere with vision in the early stages. However, over time it impairs vision.

At first, more vital lighting and glasses can help you deal with cataracts. However, you may need surgery if impaired vision interferes with your everyday activities. Fortunately, cataract surgery is generally safe and effective.


  • Cloudy, blurry, or poor vision
  • Increasing difficulty seeing at night
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • You need a brighter light for reading and other activities
  • You see a “glow” around the lights
  • Frequent changes in the prescription of glasses or contact lenses
  • Fading or yellowing of colors
  • Double vision with one eye


Initially, the cloudiness of vision caused by cataracts may affect only a tiny part of the eye’s lens, and you may not be aware of any vision loss. However, as the cataract enlarges, it clouds more of the lens and distorts light that passes through it.


Most cataracts develop when aging or injury changes the tissue that makes up the eye’s lens. As a result, proteins and fibers in the lens begin to break down, causing blurred or cloudy vision.

Certain inherited genetic disorders that cause other health problems can increase the risk of cataracts. Other eye diseases, eye surgeries, or medical conditions such as diabetes can also cause cataracts. Long-term use of steroid drugs can also cause the development of cataracts.

How cataracts form

The lens focuses the light that enters the eye and creates a clear, sharp image on the retina, the light-sensitive membrane of the eye that acts like the film in a camera.

As a person ages, the lenses in the eyes become less flexible, less transparent, and thicker. In addition, age-related and other health problems cause the proteins and fibers in the lens to break down and clump together, making the lens cloudy.

As the cataract continues to develop, the opacity becomes thicker. Cataracts scatter and block light as it passes through the lens, preventing a sharply defined image from reaching the retina. As a result, the vision becomes blurred.

Cataracts generally develop in both eyes, but not always at the same rate. Cataracts in one eye may be more advanced than the other, causing a difference in vision between the eyes.

Types of cataracts

Cataract affecting the center of the lens (nuclear cataract)

A cataract may initially cause more nearsightedness or even a temporary improvement in reading vision. However, the lens gradually turns yellow over time and further obscures your vision.

As the cataract slowly progresses, the lens may even turn brown. Advanced yellowing or browning of the lens can lead to difficulty distinguishing between color shades.

A cataract that affects the edges of the lens (cortical cataract)

A cortical cataract begins as a whitish, wedge-shaped opaque layer or streaks on the outer edge of the lens cortex. As it slowly progresses, the spots expand toward the center and interfere with the light passing through the center of the lens.

A cataract that affects the back of the lens

A posterior subcapsular cataract begins as a small, opaque area that usually forms near the back of the lens, directly in the light path. Posterior subcapsular cataract often interferes with reading vision, reduces vision in bright light, and causes glare around lights at night. In addition, these types of cataracts tend to progress more quickly than other types.

A cataract that a person is born with (congenital cataract)

Some people are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood. These cataracts may be genetic or associated with intrauterine infection or trauma.

Risk factors

Factors that increase the risk of cataracts include:

  • Increasing age
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Previous eye injury or inflammation
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Long-term use of corticosteroids
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol


No studies have shown how to prevent cataracts or slow their progression. But doctors think several strategies may be helpful, including:

  • Complete regular eye examinations.
  • Eye exams can help detect cataracts and other eye problems in their earliest stages.
  • To stop smoking.
  • Cope with other health problems. For example, follow your medication plan for diabetes or other medical conditions that may increase your risk of cataracts.
  • Choose a healthy diet that contains enough fruits and vegetables. Adding different colored fruits and vegetables to the diet will ensure a lot of vitamins and nutrients. In addition, fruits and vegetables have many antioxidants that help maintain eye health.
  • Wear sunglasses. Ultraviolet light from the sun can contribute to the development of cataracts. When outdoors, wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol use can increase the risk of cataracts.

Studies have not shown that antioxidant pills can prevent cataracts. But a large population-based study recently revealed that a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals was associated with a reduced risk of developing cataracts. Fruits and vegetables have many proven health benefits and are a safe way to increase the amount of minerals and vitamins in your diet.

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