Your Eyes, Cataracts & Vision

Reviewed by:

Jason Jacobs, M.D. & Paul Koch, MD

In order to appreciate how Cataracts affect your eyes and vision, it is helpful to have some basic knowledge of the structure of your eyes and how they function. The two main optical components of your eye are the Cornea and the Crystalline Lens. Seeing well requires that light be able to pass through these optical structures of your eyes, without being blocked or obstructed so that it can reach the Retina and focus properly.

Eyes vision

The Retina is the tissue layer that is responsible for converting light into neurological impulses that can be conveyed to the brain to create the sensation of “seeing”.

The Cornea is the outermost clear domelike “lens” that is visible when looking at your eye from a side view. The Crystalline Lens is located behind the colored part of the eye, or the Iris, and is not directly visible.

Crystaline lens eye

Your eye doctor is readily able to examine the Crystalline Lens during an eye examination by using specialized instruments to look through the Pupil, or the dark center of the Iris. Both the Cornea and the Crystalline Lens need to be perfectly clear in order for you to have good vision. Generally, if you are in good health and have not had chronic eye infections, inflammation or had any trauma to your eyes, the Cornea is likely to maintain its clarity throughout your life. The Crystalline Lens however undergoes a number of changes that progress as we age. These aging changes can affect your vision.

The two most common changes that occur in the Crystalline Lens and affect your vision are:

  • First, the normally soft and pliable protein in the Crystalline Lens becomes less flexible and even stiff, limiting your ability to change the focus of your vision from far to near to arm’s length and then to near or far again. This loss of flexibility and associated loss of focusing ability is called Presbyopia
  • Second, as the Crystalline Lens protein denatures, it may lose its transparency, even turning yellow resulting in a loss of optical clarity. This loss of optical clarity of the Crystalline Lens is called a Cataract.

cataract cataracts

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