It is called cataracts to the loss of transparency of the crystalline lens. Over the years, and especially after 45-50 years, the crystalline lens becomes more and more opaque naturally - while it hardens - and the entry of light is less and less. The result is that the vision gets blurred gradually. This progressive loss of transparency of the lens is what we called cataract.
As we have said, the factor of aging is the main cause of cataracts. These would be the so-called 'senile cataracts'. But there is also the possibility that they appear because of other factors. For example if we receive a blow to the eye a 'traumatic cataract' may appear. The appearance of some type of infection or inflammation during pregnancy can lead to the appearance in children of what are called 'congenital cataracts'. Cataracts can also appear associated to a disease such as diabetes or as a side effect to some type of medication, in this case are called 'secondary cataracts'.
Cataracts can now be eliminated easily and quickly by surgical intervention. It is the only way to remove it. There are no medications, food supplements, exercises, or optical devices that can cure or delay the evolution of cataracts.
It is also not true that cataracts must 'mature' before being operated on, nor that we has to wait until blindness to be able to undergo surgery.
The technique consists of extracting the opacified crystalline material and replacing it by an artificial lens, called the intraocular lens. The extraction of the altered material is done through a minimum 2.2mm incision through which a device called phacoemulsifier is introduced, which shreds the crystalline masses and vacuum them. Subsequently, the intraocular lens with the adequate power, that will perform the functions of the crystalline lens, is introduced through the same incision.
The intervention is ambulatory (does not require hospitalization), is performed only under topical anesthesia (drops) and lasts no more than 10 minutes per eye.