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The cataract

Cataract is the gradual opacification of the crystalline lens, a lens that is located within our eye, just behind the iris, and which is necessary for the focus.

In young subjects the crystal is transparent because the proteins that are part of its composition have a structure such that it allows to keep the transparency itself. With advancing age, for a number of factors such as oxidation, these proteins are altered losing their chemical-physical characteristics, determining the clouding of the crystalline or cataract.

Foto concessione: Dott. C. Benedetti

Generally senile cataract develops slowly, but sometimes the process can be very rapid, so that those affected realizes it alone against concrete visual difficulties that led him to make frequent eye examinations.

If not for the surgery, the cataract would be the leading cause of blindness over the age of 60 without distinction between rich and poor countries. To confirm this, just think that more than approximately 50% of the population 65 years develops cataracts and aged 75 and over the rate may exceed 90%.

To imagine what is the result of these processes, just try to watch a scene through a fogged glass, so you can check the main visual symptoms that meets the patient with cataracts. They are:

  • Clouding of the transitional view that over time it becomes permanent
  • Glare in vision backlight, the faces of people backlit become unrecognizable
  • Luminous halos or colored (similar to the colors of the rainbow) around bright sources
  • The reduced contrast sensitivity
  • Difficulty in clearly distinguishing colors
  • Problems in the vision in the dark
  • Noise when driving at night

To all this it can achieve, because of the effort made by the eye to adapt to this situation, burning sensation and eye fatigue.

The symptoms are all related to the fact that the light and the images reach the retina with difficulty because of the opacification of the lens and the retina arrive diffracted and distorted.


It is important to emphasize that the lens is not an inanimate object.

It is formed by highly specialized cells whose vitality is linked to metabolism and consequently it is also important to the lifestyle.

The appearance of the cataract is not only connected to ‘aging although this is certainly the most frequent.

In addition to age-related cataract we can report:

Congenital cataracts, not very common, occurring in children in the first six months of life, or in the critical period of visual development. It is therefore very serious interference that you have in the development of vision.

Cataracts due to eye diseases such as uveitis or glaucoma.

Cataracts linked to systemic diseases, most notably diabetes.

The resulting cataract to use of drugs such as corticosteroids at high doses for long periods.

Do not forget the ionizing radiation, microwave…….

There is no pharmacological therapy of the cataract, for which the solution is exclusively surgical.

The surgery involves removing the cloudy lens that is replaced with an artificial one.

Sometimes it happens that from happening again an opacification, this phenomenon is known as secondary cataract.

This event does not require a new surgery, the operator can intervene with a laser called YAG laser, which removes very quickly opacification allowing the patient to see well again.