Almost 13 million Americans age 40 and older have cataracts.

Cataracts are the clouding of the eye’s lens, like a window that is “fogged” with steam. They are not a growth or a film. When the lens becomes cloudy, light rays cannot pass through it easily and vision becomes blurry.

Cataracts start out small and have little effect on vision at first. But as the cataract grows, it clouds more of the lens. See your Eye M.D. if you experience:

• Painless blurring of vision
• Sensitivity to light and glare
• Double vision in one eye
• Poor night vision
• Fading or yellowing of colors
• Frequent changes in glasses or contact lens prescriptions

Although cataracts usually develop as part of the aging process, they can also result from:

• Eye injuries
• Certain diseases, such as diabetes
• Medications, such as steroids
• Genetic inheritance
• Frequent, unprotected exposure to UV-A and UV-B rays

Currently, there are no medications, eye drops, exercises or glasses that will cause cataracts to disappear. And if cataracts don’t interfere with your life, you may decide not to do anything about them.

When they do interfere with daily activities, they can be treated surgically. Cataract surgery is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States with most patients regaining useful vision.