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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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. a large waterfall or rapids
2. Pathol
a. partial or total opacity of the crystalline lens of the eye
b. the opaque area
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Song, "A case of isolated posterior capsule rupture and traumatic cataract caused by blunt ocular trauma," Korean Journal of Ophthalmology: KJO, vol.
At final visit, 46 eyes were pseudophakic, 26 were phakic, 10 had traumatic cataract, 15 eyes were aphakic, and 4 eyes had undergone evisceration and 1 eye had undergone enucleation.
Material and Methods: The study included 50 patients having traumatic cataract undergoing primary intraocular lens implantation.
Retinal detachment is commonly seen post-operatively in penetrating traumatic cataract cases as Greven3 reported RD in 13% of cases.
Caption: Figure 3: Slightly subluxated lens with traumatic cataract images obtained in the same patient with 25 and 50 MHz UBM.
Patients with complicated or traumatic cataracts, uveitis, glaucoma, history of steroid use and other ocular conditions like pseudoexfoliation and retinal detachment were not included in this study.
We considered traumatic cataracts managed secondarily as another variable.
Contusion 18 1 3 16 8 0 5 Superficial 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 Foreign Body Lamellar concretion 1 0 0 1 0 0 Mixed 4 0 1 1 2 0 0 Total 47 3 4 22 22 11 5 Contusion 2 0 0 0 0 1 8 Superficial 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 Foreign Body Lamellar concretion 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 Mixed 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 Total 10 2 4 1 5 1 18 In our series, the most common B-scan finding was traumatic cataract (47%) & the most common posterior segment finding was vitreous haemorrhage (34%).
Surgery was planned to restore the visual acuity lost due to progressive traumatic cataract. The procedure consisted of entering the anterior chamber via a 2.8 mm clear cornea incision made temporally with 20 gauge MVR blades, trypan blue capsule staining under air and lens extraction by the bimanual irrigation/aspiration technique.
Four patients underwent small incision phacoemulsification for traumatic cataract at the same time of the vitrectomy.
Patients who had traumatic cataract and/or conditions likely to require vitrectomy and transscleral fixation of posterior chamber intraocular lens were also excluded.

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