Cataracts is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window. Clouded vision caused by cataracts can make it more difficult to read, drive a car — especially at night — or see the expression on a friend's face.
Most cataracts develop slowly and don't disturb your eyesight early on. But with time, cataracts can interfere with your vision.
At first, stronger lighting and eyeglasses can help you deal with cataracts. But if impaired vision interferes with your usual activities, you might need cataract surgery. Fortunately, cataract surgery is generally a safe, effective procedure.
A cataract occurs when the lens of your eye becomes cloudy. Eventually, a cataract can advance to the degree of the one shown in this person's right eye.
Normal vision (left) becomes blurred as a cataract forms (right).
Signs and symptoms of cataracts include:
At first, the cloudiness in your vision caused by a cataract may affect only a small part of the eye's lens and you may be unaware of any vision loss. As the cataract grows larger, it clouds more of your lens and distorts the light passing through the lens. This may lead to signs and symptoms you're more likely to notice.
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment for an eye exam if you notice any changes in your vision. If you develop sudden vision changes, such as double vision or blurriness, see your doctor right away.