What is cataract and who can develop it?

A cataract affects the lens of the eye and is in most cases an accompanying symptom of age. But young people can also get it under certain circumstances.

What is a cataract?

When the eye has cataracts, the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and affects vision. Those affected then see through a gray veil. In medicine, this is called cataract.

The lens of the eye is a transparent, clear and elastic body that is curved on the front and back. The lens focuses the incident light on the retina in the back of the eye and creates a sharp image. If the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, sharp and clear vision is impaired. Depending on the degree of cloudiness, eyesight is reduced to a minimum.

The task of the eye lens

The lens of the eye is a vascular organ that consists of a lens capsule and a lens nucleus. It is clear, translucent, and curved on the sides, much like the lens of a camera lens.

Its task is to collect the light that falls into the eye and guide it in a concentrated manner onto the retina in the back of the eye. In order to optimize the focal point on the retina, the lens of the eye can curve strongly or less strongly.

How the cataract changes the lens of the eye with age

With increasing age, the entire body changes, including the lens of the eye. Due to the constant renewal of cells over many years, the lense becomes thicker and more inflexible. It loses its elasticity, which has a negative influence on the optimal concentration of light on the retina. Sharp vision is impaired. This fact leads to presbyopia on the one hand and has an influence on the clarity of the lens on the other. The proteins contained in the lens of the eye in connection with certain crystals are responsible for the transparency. In old age, this connection can be disrupted, so that the proteins clump together and lead to gray lens opacity. The incident light is scattered instead of bundled and ensures blurred vision.

Who can develop cataract?

Old-age cataract from the age of 50

The cataract risk group includes people over 50, as cataracts are a side effect of old age. The old-age cataract belongs to the most common forms of cataract. It increases in the course of life, so that more than half of the 70-year-olds suffer from it.

Metabolic diseases – diabetes

Metabolic diseases such as diabetes generally pose a risk for eye diseases. In addition to diabetic retinopathy , premature clouding of the lens of the eye is also possible.


Medication – especially cortisone administered over a long period of time – can cause cataracts to develop.


Injuries to the eye from an accident are also considered a potential risk for cataracts.

Eye surgery

If the vitreous humor has to be removed in an eye operation, this often has opacity of the lens of the eye as a side effect. That is why in many cases the lens is replaced by an artificial one in the same course of such operations.

Bad habits

Poor diet or malnutrition generally has a negative impact on eye health. So, this can also promote clouding of the lens. Physical activity, on the other hand, has a preventive effect.

Too much sunlight, without sun protection, especially in very sunny parts of the world and by the water, is a possible risk for cataracts, even at a young age.

How dangerous is cataract?

From the age of 50, the risk of cataracts increases. If left untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness. That is why we recommend annual check-ups by an ophthalmologist for this age group, in order to be able to diagnose the creeping process of lens opacity in time. This can be stopped with the right treatment and, in the best case, the visual impairment can be completely eliminated.

Further information about cataract

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