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Cataract is among the most common eye diseases. The term actually means a waterfall and refers to the opacity of the crystalline lens of the eye on the assumption that the condition is caused by the humor of the brain falling over the pupil.

The crystalline lens, through which light travels into the interior of the eye, is situated just behind the iris, or colored portion of the eye. In a cataract, this lens becomes opaque, hence seriously hampering the entrance of light into the eye. Blindness ensues when no light rays can permeate the opacity of the lens. According to the modern medical system, a surgical operation to remove the lens or a major portion of it is the only way to get rid of the disease. The patient is provided with suitable glasses after the operation to enable them to see well enough to carry on their normal duties.

The first sign of a cataract is blurred vision. The patient finds it difficult to see things in focus. As the cataract progresses, the patient may get double vision or spots or both. There is a gradual increase in blindness. At first, vision in twilight may be better than in full daylight since light is admitted round the more widely dilated pupil in the dark. In the advanced stage, objects and people may appear merely blobs of light. In the final stage, there is a grayish white discoloration in the pupil.

A Cataract is often found in association with other defects of the eye. There are four factors which contribute to the loss of transparency of the lens. These are stagnation of the fluid current in the lens resulting from blood condition; deterioration in the nutrition of the lens which diminishes the vitality and resistance of the delicate lens fibers; deposits between the lens fibers of acids and salts which have an irritating effect on the lens tissues and exert an increasing pressure on its delicate fibers, clouding of the whole lens in the absence of appropriate measures.

As in the case of most diseases, poisons in the blood stream due to dietetic errors and a faulty style of living are the real cause of a cataract. The toxic matter in the blood stream spreads throughout the body to find shelter in any available weak spot. It strikes the lens if that part has become weak through strain, excessive use of the eyes and local irritation. The condition becomes worse with the passage of time and then a cataract starts developing. Other causes of cataract are stress and strain, excessive intake of alcoholic drinks, sugar, salt, smoking, certain physical ailments such as gastro-intestinal or gallbladder disturbance, diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, especially of vitamin C, fatty acid intolerance, aging, radiation and side effects of drugs prescribed for other diseases.

Some specialists believe that the most important cause of many cataracts is poor nutrition. This may be true even in the case of the type of cataract commonly called senile or aging cataract. The cause may be a lifetime of malnutrition.