Make an Appointment (978)-854-5090

Common Questions About Cataracts

By admin | Aug 14, 2018

What is a cataract?  Does it only occur when you become older?

A cataract is the clouding of your natural lens.  It is a normal aging process that starts from the day you are born.  Your eye works very much like a camera.  The front of your eye (the tear film, the cornea, pupil, and lens) all work to focus light.  The lens will flatten and round up to help focus at distance and near.  This happens hundreds of times in a given day.  The lens is a very active tissue!

The lens flattens and thickens hundreds of times a day to make sure images stay in focus both at distance and near.

Just as a tree lays down one ring a year, the lens lays down several rings a year.  This change happens from birth onwards.  Over time, the lens becomes thicker and cloudier like a dirty window.  This is when people start to notice symptoms.  The important thing to understand is that a cataract is a normal aging change that has been happening since birth – the symptoms of this normal aging change is usually noticeable after the age of 40.


Are all cataracts the result of a normal aging change?

Not all cataracts are the result of a normal aging change.  Some cataracts form because of the use of medications.  A common medication that causes cataracts is steroids.  Other cataracts are a result of trauma.  Cataracts can also form as a result of inflammation in the eye.  Your ophthalmologist will review the type of cataract you have and how this might affect your eyesight or surgery.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

Depending on how your particular lens grows, you can have many different symptoms.  Just as no two trees grow the same, no two lenses grow the same either.  Usually, cataract formation is gradual, taking place over several years.

The first symptom of a maturing lens usually occurs around age 40.  As the lens becomes thicker and loses its ability to round up to focus on closer objects, the ability to read without assistance gets impaired.  For a while, you might be able to get away with holding the paper at a farther distance.  At some point, though, patients notice “my arms are not long enough”, and need to wear reading glasses.

Trying to hold paper as far as possible because it is no longer in focus up close.  This is because the lens has grown over time and lost its ability to focus up close

Cataract surgery

As the lens continues to grow and mature, it causes other problems.  Glare and halos are common due the scattering of light.  This is most often noted as decreased vision when driving at night (car headlights cause glare/halos), in the rain and in the snow.

In the interest of maintaining further transparency and providing a wide breadth of information to our patients and providers, this blog will serve as an educational and informative resource on interesting happenings within Retina Consultants of Boston and in the greater field of Ophthalmology.

Here at Retina Consultants of Boston, Dr. John J. Weiter and Dr. Namrata Nandakumar are on the forefront of diagnostic techniques, treatment and micro-surgical techniques for macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachments, macular holes, and a number of other issues affecting the vitreous and retina. Check back here frequently for news and updates on our practice and all things retina!