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in medicine, opacity of the lens of the eye, which impairs vision. In the young, cataracts are generally congenital or hereditary; later they are usually the result of degenerative changes brought on by aging or systemic disease (diabetesdiabetes
or diabetes mellitus
, chronic disorder of glucose (sugar) metabolism caused by inadequate production or use of insulin, a hormone produced in specialized cells (beta cells in the islets of Langerhans) in the pancreas that allows the body to use and store
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). Cataracts brought on by aging are most common; most individuals over 60 exhibit some degree of lens opacity. Injury, extreme heat, ultraviolet light, X rays, nuclear radiation, inflammatory disease, and toxic substances also cause cataracts. There is growing concern that further disintegration of the ozone layerozone layer
or ozonosphere,
region of the stratosphere containing relatively high concentrations of ozone, located at altitudes of 12–30 mi (19–48 km) above the earth's surface.
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 will increase the incidence of cataracts. Advanced cataracts are usually treated by surgical removal of the lens and implantation of an artificial lens. After cataract surgery, which is the most common surgical procedure in the United States, most patients do not require thick glasses or contact lenses.



an opacity of the crystalline lens of the eye that prevents light from penetrating into the eye and that results in decreased visual acuity. The term “cataract” reflects the mistaken conception of the ancient Greeks that a cataract is caused by the effusion of a turbid fluid between the iris and the lens. Cataracts are distinguished according to the location of the opacity in the lens: capsular (in the capsule covering the lens), cortical (in the peripheral layers of the lens), and nuclear (in its central layers).

Cataracts may be congenital or acquired. Congenital cataracts develop in the intrauterine period, and the opacity generally does not enlarge or change with age. In congenital cataracts, parts of the lens almost invariably remain transparent, and visual acuity is not completely impaired. Depending on the site of the opacities, cataracts may be anterior or posterior polar (limited opacities of the capsule of the lens), lamellar, and so forth.

Senile cataracts constitute most of the acquired cataracts, and they are characterized by progression of the opacities of the lens. In senile cataracts, opacities appear first in the periphery of the lens (incipient senile cataract), and vision remains unimpaired. The number of opacities then increases and they coalesce, resulting in a marked decrease in visual acuity (immature cataract). As the condition develops, all the layers of the lens become cloudy and it turns grayish white or mother-of-pearl; visual acuity decreases to photoperception—that is, the eye becomes virtually blind (mature senile cataract). Also acquired are complicated cataracts that arise in some systemic diseases (diabetes, cholera, digestive disorders) or result from diseases of the eye itself (inflammation of the uveal tract, progressive myopia). Cataracts resulting from eye injuries, effects of radiation, and so forth constitute a large group of acquired cataracts.

Treatment is generally surgical. In some cases it involves transplanting an artificial lens.


Dymshits, L. A. “Bolezni khrustalika.” In Mnogotomnoe rukovodstvo po glaznym bolezniam, vol. 2, book 2. Moscow, 1960.



A waterfall of considerable volume with the vertical fall concentrated in one sheer drop.
An opacity in the crystalline lens or the lens capsule of the eye.


1. a large waterfall or rapids
2. Pathol
a. partial or total opacity of the crystalline lens of the eye
b. the opaque area
References in periodicals archive ?
RESULTS: Among 6,422 cases and 59,328 controls that shared at least 1 week of the critical period in summer, a 5-degree increase in mean daily minimum UAT was significantly associated with congenital cataracts (aOR = 1.
The corresponding percentages of students who were diagnosed with Leber's congenital amaurosis, congenital cataracts, and retinopathy of prematurity were 70% (n = 19), 67% (n = 8), and 38% (n = 18), respectively.
Patients: A total of 593 infants and children clinically diagnosed as congenital cataract (with or without other congenital manifestations) at Sankara Nethralaya, a referral eye hospital in Chennai, during the period January 1998--December 2006 were included in the present study.
Surveillance of CRS requires active programmes, which have been carried out in several developing countries, such as a congenital cataracts survey in India (11) and clinical-virological surveillance in Myanmar.
There was also one report of an optic nerve anomaly and one report of a congenital lacrimal passage anomaly in babies exposed to fluoxetine (Prozac) in utero, as well as one report each of retinopathy and congenital cataract in babies exposed to paroxetine (Paxil) in utero.
the congenital cataract DNA test can be requested by registered medical facilities through international referral.
Zhao Yuchuan was one of these 1500 beneficiaries, who suffered from congenital cataract and lived in darkness since birth, as the cataract surgery fee was beyond the financial capabilities of this little boy and he had no access to modern medical facilities either.
The main case of visual impairment in Yemen is cataract, which is normally a disease associated with ageing but in Yemen many children are born with congenital cataract that needs to be surgically treated to avoid permanent visual loss, she added.
Washington, May 11 (ANI): Contact lenses are better off than surgical lens replacement therapy in infants who undergo surgery to treat congenital cataract, a new study has revealed.
We believe that this case may represent the first reported case of a supernumerary nostril with a congenital cataract on the same side.
Stephanie Heindel wakes 3-year-old Marvin Enrique who just had a congenital cataract in his left eye surgically removed.

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