Cataract is a condition that blurs the vision by affecting the lens of the eye. The lens of the eye is located behind the iris and the pupil and its functioning is similar to that of a camera lens. The lens focuses light onto the retina at the back of the eye where an image is recorded, and this causes the adjustment of the eye's focus that allows us to clearly view objects that are close and far away. The lens consists of mostly water and protein that is arranged in a specific way to maintain clarity in the lens and to allow light to pass through. However, over time, some of the protein may clump together and blur a small area of the lens. This process is known as the condition called cataract. Eventually, the cataract may grow larger and blur more of the lens, resulting in the difficulty of vision.

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Causes and Risk Factors

Age is not the only factor that leads to cataract. Some individuals are born with a congenital cataract-like condition in their eye or eyes. Risk factors for cataract includ

Smoking and alcohol consumption
Environmental conditions such as a prolonged exposure to sunlight
Injury or trauma to the eye
The use of steroids, diuretics or tranquilizers

Types of Cataract

The lens consists of three layers. The thin, clear membrane on the outermost layer is known as the capsule. The capsule surrounds a soft, clear material known as cortex and the hard center of the lens is known as the nucleus. A cataract can form in any part of the lens. Here are the three types of cataracts:

Nuclear Cataract – This is the most common form of cataract. It develops as a part of the natural aging process and forms in the center of the lens. In the early stages the affected person may face myopia or nearsightedness. In some cases, individuals experience a temporary improvement in their reading vision and may even stop using reading glasses. However, this effect does not remain for a long period of time. As the condition worsens, the lens develops a dense yellow color and blurs the vision. Individuals who are suffering from this type of cataract find it increasingly difficult to drive at night and cannot distinguish between shades of blue and purple.
Cortical Cataract – This condition is common among diabetics. It begins as a white, wedge shaped clump towards the edge of the lens and eventually moves inward. It can adversely affect both distant and near vision and individuals who are suffering from cortical cataract find it difficult to focus because of distorted vision and loss of contrast. Patients may also have problems with glares and bright lights that may seem blinding.
Subcapsular Cataract - A subcapsular cataract initially develops at the back of the lens. This type of cataract usually affects people with diabetes, high farsightedness, retinitis pigmentosa or those taking high doses of steroids. This type of cataract may occur in both eyes but tends to be more advanced in one eye than in the other. It impairs the near vision and causes vision in bright light to be difficult by creating a glare and halo around the light. However, these signs only develop during the advanced stage.

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