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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Cataract
      Category : Health Centers > Eyes and Vision


Alternate Names : Clouding of the Lens

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

A cataract is a clouding on the lens of the eye that interferes with vision.

What is going on in the body?

The natural lens of the eye is located behind the pupil and iris. It should be clear. The lens refracts, or bends, light rays coming into the eye. This causes the light rays to focus on the retina. Any clouding of the lens will interfere with normal vision. Clouding occurs when proteins in the lens change and group together. These changes are part of normal aging.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Most cataracts develop during the normal course of aging. Proteins in the lens change and group together. Over time, the lens becomes firmer or more opaque. Infants and children can have cataracts, although this is rare. Following are some of the other causes of cataracts:

  • chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome
  • diabetes and other metabolic disorders
  • exposure to high-voltage electricity, including lightning
  • heredity
  • infections before birth, such as measles
  • injury to the eye
  • living at high altitudes with exposure to sunlight
  • medications, including steroids
  • premature birth
  • radiation treatment around the eye


    Next section


    Cataract: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: William Stevens, MD
    Reviewer: Sal Sandoval, MD
    Date Reviewed: 09/10/01

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