Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in this country, affecting more than 20 million Americans ages 65 and older. A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. When a cataract occurs, the light entering the eye is blocked and scattered, and therefore the image seen is blurred.
Although cataracts may occur in people of all ages, it most commonly occurs as we age, typically affecting those in their 60s or 70s. When the cataract significantly impairs vision, patients can undergo surgery, removing the cloudy natural lens and replacing it with a lens implant.
Today, cataract surgery is done with a topical anesthetic in about 15-20 minutes. In most cases, no shots or stitches are needed. The implant lens, which replaces the natural lens of the eye that has been removed, continues to be improved upon, giving patients better and more natural vision.
Patients return to most of their regular activities within days, and frequently are back to driving the day after surgery. Although a very small number of patients can have complications with surgery, it is highly successful in restoring vision in about 97% of patients.