In the normal human eye, light rays travel into the eye through the pupil. They pass through the clear lens and focus onto the retina.
In an eye with a cataract, light scatters throughout the eye instead of focusing precisely on the retina.
Cataract as part of aging
Though there are other risk factors for cataracts, aging is the most common cause. This is due to normal eye changes that happen after around age 40. That is when normal proteins in the lens start to break down. This is what causes the lens to get cloudy. People over age 60 usually start to have some clouding of their lenses. However, vision problems may not happen until years later.
Most age-related cataracts develop gradually. Other cataracts can develop more quickly, such as those in younger people or those in people with diabetes. Doctors cannot predict how quickly a person’s cataract will develop.
You may be able to slow down your development of cataracts.
Protecting your eyes from sunlight is the best way to do this. Wear sunglasses that screen out the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light rays. You may also wear regular eyeglasses that have a clear, anti-UV coating. Talk with your eye doctor to learn more.