A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil.
Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 and is the principal cause of blindness in the world. In fact, there are more cases of cataracts worldwide than there are of glaucoma, macular degenearation, and diabetic retinopathy combined, according to Prevent Blindness America (PBA).
Today, cataracts affect more than 22 million Americans age 40 and older. In St. George alone it is estimated that 15-20 thousand residents have cataracts of some degree.
Types of cataracts include:
- A subcapsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens. People with diabetes, high farsightedness or retinitis pigmentosa or those taking high doses of steroid medications have a greater risk of developing a subcapsular cataract.
- A nuclear cataract forms deep in the central zone (nucleus) of the lens. Nuclear cataracts usually are associated with aging.
- A cortical cataract is characterized by white, wedge-like opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the center in a spoke-like fashion. This type of cataract occurs in the lens cortex, which is the part of the lens that surrounds the central nucleus.
Cataract Symptoms and Signs
A cataract starts out small and at first has little effect on your vision. You may notice that your vision is blurred a little, like looking through a cloudy piece of glass or viewing an impressionist painting.