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When cataracts are mentioned, people often think of a film that grows on their eyes causing them to see double or blurred images. However, a cataract does not form on the eye, but rather within the eye.

cat none

cat

Eye without a cataract

Eye with a cataract

A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens, the part of the eye responsible for focusing light and producing clear, sharp images. The lens is contained in a sealed bag or capsule. As old cells die they become trapped within the capsule. Over time, the cells accumulate causing the lens to cloud, making images look blurred or fuzzy. For most people, cataracts are a natural result of aging.

In fact, they are the leading cause of visual loss among adults 55 and older. Eye injuries, certain medications, and diseases such as diabetes and alcoholism have also been known to cause cataracts.

eye emmetrop

cataract


Illustrations by Mark Erickson
With acknowledgement to St. Lukes Eye Hospital.

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