|The experience of having cataracts can be likened to looking at the world through fogged up glasses – the lenses become all blurred and vision is impaired. That is essentially what cataracts are - the clouding of the eye's natural lenses. The lens is the part of the eye which lies behind the iris and the pupil and, much like a camera lens, it focuses light onto the retina at the back of the eye and adjusts the eye's focus - allowing us to see both long and short distance.
Made of water and protein, the lens is a clear structure that allows light to pass through it. But as we age, or as a result of injury or illness, some of the protein in the lens begins to clump together and the result is a clouding effect in a small area of the lens. This is called a cataract, and over time, it may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it more and more difficult to see.
While eye cataracts decrease vision and can be very frustrating, they generally don’t cause pain and are not considered dangerous. However, if a cataract becomes completely white it is called an overripe (hypermature) cataract which can cause inflammation, pain and headache. A hypermature cataract is not all that common, but should it occur it usually requires removal.