Most cataracts do not require surgery.  In general, if the reduced vision from the cataract does not interfere with your activities, surgery may not be needed.

Surgery is also not needed if changing your glasses allows you to see well enough to do the activities that are important to you.

Although it is rare, sometimes a cataract can grow so much that the eye doctor can not see the back of the eye.  A cataract can also cause glaucoma.  In these cases, surgery may be needed.

Your eye doctor will help determine whether or not you require cataract surgery.

Cataracts in Adults:
The most common type of cataract is a nuclear cataract which starts to develop in the center of the lens (nucleus).  Many people over age 60 have a mild form of nuclear cataract.  As a nuclear cataract gets worse, it makes the eye more "nearsighted."  This is often referred to as the "second sight." when an older person can read without glasses.

The next most common type of cataract is a cortical cataract.  Its is located in the outside margins of the lens (cortex).  Nuclear and cortical cataracts are more common in older people.

The third most common tope of cataract is a posterior subcapsular cataract.  It is found in the back part of the lens.  These cataracts are more common younger people.  However, each type of cataract can occur within any age group.

Cataracts in Children:
Cataracts can occur in children at the time of birth, or can develop in the first few years of life.  Often, there is a family history of cataracts at an early age, an earlier injury to the eye, or rubella (German measles) infection in the mother during the first three months of pregnancy.

If a child does not see clearly and does not use both eyes together during the first seven years of life, one eye will become lazy (amblyopia).  If a child has a dense cataract, it may need to be removed within the first few months of life.  This may prevent amblyopia.  Young children with cataracts should be examined by an ophthalmologist (a medical eye doctor) as soon as possible.

Cataract Home     What is Cataract Surgery     Cataract FAQ