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A cataract is a clouding that develops in the crystalline lens of the eye or in its envelope (lens capsule), varying in degree from slight to complete opacity and obstructing the passage of light. Early in the development of age-related cataract, the power of the lens may be increased, causing near-sightedness (myopia) and the gradual yellowing and pacification of the lens may reduce the perception of blue colors. Cataracts typically progress slowly to cause vision loss, and are potentially blinding if untreated. The condition usually affects both eyes, but almost always one eye is affected earlier than the other.
A senile cataract, occurring in the elderly, is characterized by an initial opacity in the lens, subsequent swelling of the lens and final shrinkage with complete loss of transparency. Moreover, with time the cataract cortex liquefies to form a milky white fluid in a Morgagnian cataract, which can cause severe inflammation if the lens capsule ruptures and leaks.