Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Cataracts

Conditions & Treatments

Cataracts

Cataracts

A cataract is a condition that causes a painless, hazy area in the lens of the eye that obstructs the passage of light to the retina (a layer of nerve located in the back of the eye).  The retina is attached to the optic nerve which is responsible for sending signals to the brain and creating a picture for the eyes. Cataracts block light coming into the retina creating vision problems. Cataracts will usually develop gradually overtime; in the beginning stages patients will notice a slight cloudiness in the eye but as their condition progresses it can cover the entire eye making it extremely difficult to see anything clearly. Patient with sever cataracts will see images as if there is a cloud of fog hanging over their eyes.

Aging and exposure to the sun is the most common cause of cataracts, but the disease can also occur after an eye injury, or as a result of eye disease. Patients that suffer from cataracts experience foggy or double vision. There are four ways cataracts can develop that patients should be aware of: secondary cataract, traumatic cataract, congenital cataract and radiation cataract.  A secondary cataract will either develop after a surgery has been performed on the eye, or as a result of another disease such as glaucoma or diabetes. Traumatic cataract is a condition that is the result of an injury to the eye. Congenital cataract is a less common condition in which a child is born with cataracts or the onset of cataracts happens in early childhood. The onset of radiation cataract is the result of high exposure to radiation.


Surgical Cataract Removal
©Alcon, Inc.

Patients with associated risk factors such as age, family history, health conditions (such as diabetes or glaucoma), injuries, exposure to sunlight or radiation and smoking are at a high risk of develop this condition.

Surgery is widely accepted treatment for patients with a cataract because it is a relatively safe procedure that has a high success rate. During the procedure a surgeon will remove the damaged lens and replace it with an artificial lens allowing the patient to have clearer vision.