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Cataracts are a progressive eye disease that consists of the opacification of the crystalline lens, the natural “lens” of the eye, which is located between the iris and the vitreous body.

In almost all cases, the main cause of cataracts is ageing: it is a disease that mainly affects people aged 65 and over. However, there may be situations in which cataracts occur in people of a much younger age (this is known as juvenile cataract): in this case the disease may be congenital, i.e. already present at birth, or may have been caused by factors such as exposure to radiation, trauma or eye injuries, particular diseases or prolonged intake of certain medications.

Symptoms of cataracts develop progressively and, in the early stages of the disease, may even go unnoticed, which is why regular eye examinations are always strongly recommended, especially after the age of 60. In general, the typical symptoms of cataracts are:

  • blurred vision;
  • double vision;
  • excessive sensitivity to light (photophobia);
  • sensation of glare;
  • difficulty in distinguishing colours, which appear more muted;
  • change in the colour of the pupil (which in very advanced cataracts changes from black to yellowish/white).
Pathology image


The diagnosis of cataracts is made by a medical specialist, the ophthalmologist, who assesses the opacity of the crystalline lens during a check-up by carrying out certain specific tests, such as measuring eyesight and biomicroscopic examination with a slit lamp.

It is important to bear in mind that, since it is a progressive disease, it is essential to diagnose cataracts at an early stage so that treatment can be more effective.


The treatment of cataracts varies depending on the progress of the disease and the visual difficulties experienced in daily life.

In milder cases of cataracts, the specialist may prescribe glasses as a temporary aid to correct the refractive errors associated with the onset of cataracts, but without being able to correct the opacity that leads to dim images and faded colours.
As the disease progresses, the only permanent solution currently available is surgery, which involves removing the opacified crystalline lens and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens. Generally, during the operation, the patient is awake and only the eye is anaesthetised, therefore no hospitalisation is required.