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What is a cataract?

A cataract occurs when the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy. This happens when proteins in the lens break down, making vision hazy, blurry, or less colorful. People with cataracts may also be extra sensitive to light and may struggle to see at night. 

Age is the most common cause of cataracts. Other causes include:

  • Certain medical problems (e.g., diabetes)
  • Family members with cataracts
  • Spending a lot of time in the sun, especially without sunglasses
  • Smoking
  • Using certain medications

Cataracts are diagnosed and treated by an ophthalmologist. The procedure used to treat cataracts removes the cloudy natural lens and replaces it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens.

How do cataracts impact healthcare?

Cataracts affect the ability to see. Not all cataracts are severe enough to need treatment, but treatment is available to correct vision issues.

Cataracts can also serve as an indication of other health conditions. For instance, cataracts can occur in those with diabetes and may signal poor management of blood sugar levels.