A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the normally clear lens of the eye. Clouding of the lens occurs due to changes in the proteins and lens fibers. Depending on size and location, it can interfere with normal vision. Most cataracts develop in persons over age 55, but can also occasionally occur in infants and young children.
When a cataract progresses to the point where it affects a person's ability to perform normal everyday tasks, then surgery may be needed. Cataract surgery involves removing the crystalline lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective types of surgery performed in the United States today. Approximately 90 percent of cataract surgery patients report better vision following surgery.
While there are no clinically proven approaches to preventing cataracts, simple preventive strategies include reducing exposure to sunlight through UV blocking lenses, decreasing or discontinuing smoking and increasing antioxidant vitamin intake through consumption of leafy green vegetables and nutritional supplements.