What are cataracts?

A cataract is when your eye's natural lens becomes cloudy. Proteins in your lens break down and cause things to look blurry, hazy or less colorful. If you have a cataract, your lens has become cloudy, like the bottom lens in the illustration. It is like looking through a foggy or dusty car windshield. Things look blurry, hazy, or less colorful with a cataract.

Inside our eyes, we have a natural lens. The lens bends (refracts) light rays that come into the eye to help us see. 

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

In its early stages, vision loss caused by a cataract may be helped by using different eyeglasses, a magnifying glass, or stronger lighting. When these are no longer helpful, surgery is the only effective treatment. A cataract only needs to be removed when vision loss gets in the way of your daily activities. These include driving, reading, or watching TV. You and your eye care provider can make that decision together.

Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries in the U.S. It is also one of the safest and most effective. It is done by replacing the cloudy lens with a new lens.

Learn more about cataracts here


Patient Care Faculty Members

Alex Beazer, MD

Alex Beazer, MD

Acting Assistant Professor


Philip Chen, MD

Professor; Grace E. Hill Endowed Chair; Vice Chair for Clinical Services


Andrew Chen, MD

Assistant Professor

Anthony Chung, MD

Anthony T. Chung, MD

Assistant Professor

Shu Feng, MD

Shu Feng, MD

Assistant Professor; Director, Medical Student Clerkship Program


Anne Ko, MD

Clinical Assistant Professor


Deborah Lam, MD

Associate Professor; Chief of Eye Care Services, VA Puget Sound Health Care System


Cecilia Lee, MD, MS

Professor; Klorfine Family Endowed Chair; Director of Clinical Research


Raghu Mudumbai, MD

Associate Professor; Division Director, Glaucoma


Tueng T. Shen, MD, PhD

Associate Dean: Medical Technology Innovation (UW Medicine/College of Engineering); Professor of Ophthalmology: Graham and Brenda Siddall Endowed Chair; Adjunct Professor: Bioengineering & Global Health; Division Director, Cornea and External Disease


Miel Sundararajan, MD

Assistant Professor


Parisa Taravati, MD

Robert E. Kalina MD Associate Professor; Vice Chair, Education; Director, Residency Program; Chief of Service, UW Medical Center


Jennifer Yu, MD, PhD

Clinical Associate Professor; Director, 4W Ophthalmology Clinic at Harborview; Director of Trauma and Consult Services at Harborview

UW Department of Ophthalmology

908 Jefferson St.. Seattle, WA 98104 (academic offices)
Harborview Medical Center (mailing address)
Box 359608, 325 Ninth Avenue Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206.543.7250
Fax: 206.685.7055


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