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Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in older Americans. Cataracts may result from chronic eye diseases, congenital defect, diabetes, or eye trauma, but by far the most common cause is age. By the time you are between the ages of 75 and 85 years old, there is a 90% chance that you have developed a cataract.
Cataracts are caused when the proteins that make up the lens start to break down and clump together forming clouds. This interferes with your vision because the lens gathers light rays admitted by the iris and focuses them onto the retina, but cataracts block the light from reaching your retina, thus interfering with your vision.
Surgery is the only way to cure a cataract. Cataract surgery is now easier and safer than ever. Your doctor will start by administering a mild sedative and numbing eye drops. The surgeon will then make a small incision in your eye about 3mm wide. The cloudy lens is then removed and replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL), or implant. There are many different kinds of lenses, and your doctor will work with you to make sure you get the lens that fits your needs.
At first, you may not have any symptoms because cataracts develop very slowly over time. Some people who are developing cataracts may notice that their close-up vision suddenly improves, but as the cataract grows this goes away.