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Clouding of the lens inside the eye, causing poor vision / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of the eye that leads to a decrease in vision of the eye.[1][7] Cataracts often develop slowly and can affect one or both eyes.[1] Symptoms may include faded colours, blurry or double vision, halos around light, trouble with bright lights, and difficulty seeing at night.[1] This may result in trouble driving, reading, or recognizing faces.[8] Poor vision caused by cataracts may also result in an increased risk of falling and depression.[2] Cataracts cause 51% of all cases of blindness and 33% of visual impairment worldwide.[3][9]

Quick facts: Cataract, Specialty, Symptoms, Complications,...
Magnified view of a cataract seen on examination with a slit lamp
SpecialtyOphthalmology, Optometry
SymptomsFaded colors, blurry vision, halos around light, trouble with bright lights, trouble seeing at night[1]
ComplicationsFalling, depression, blindness[2][3]
Usual onsetGradual[1]
CausesAging, trauma, radiation exposure, following eye surgery, genetic[1][4][5]
Risk factorsDiabetes, smoking tobacco, prolonged exposure to sunlight, alcohol[1]
Diagnostic methodEye examination[1]
PreventionSunglasses, proper diet, not smoking[1]
TreatmentGlasses, cataract surgery[1]
Frequency60 million (2015)[6]

Cataracts are most commonly due to aging but may also occur due to trauma or radiation exposure, be present from birth, or occur following eye surgery for other problems.[1][4] Risk factors include diabetes, longstanding use of corticosteroid medication, smoking tobacco, prolonged exposure to sunlight, and alcohol.[1] The underlying mechanism involves accumulation of clumps of protein or yellow-brown pigment in the lens that reduces transmission of light to the retina at the back of the eye.[1] Diagnosis is by an eye examination.[1]

Wearing sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat, eating leafy vegetables and fruits, and avoiding smoking may reduce the risk of developing cataracts, or slow down the process.[1][10] Early on the symptoms may be improved with glasses.[1] If this does not help, surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens is the only effective treatment.[1] Cataract surgery is not readily available in many countries, and surgery is needed only if the cataracts are causing problems and generally results in an improved quality of life.[1][11][4][12]

About 20 million people worldwide are blind due to cataracts.[4] It is the cause of approximately 5% of blindness in the United States and nearly 60% of blindness in parts of Africa and South America.[12] Blindness from cataracts occurs in about 10 to 40 per 100,000 children in the developing world, and 1 to 4 per 100,000 children in the developed world.[7] Cataracts become more common with age.[1] In the United States, cataracts occur in 68% of those over the age of 80 years.[13] Additionally they are more common in women, and less common in Hispanic and Black people.[13]

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