Why are eye cataracts called cataracts? Isn’t a cataract a high waterfall or any furious rush of water; a deluge? But an eye cataract is a hardening of the lens.
So how did it come to be called a cataract?

“If it’s not one thing, it’s two things.”


As you undoubtedly notice from that definition, cataracts are not a hardening of the lens, but a clouding of the lens, resulting in opaqueness, not transparency.

Hardening of the lens is presbyopia, which is actually the loss of flexibility of the lens and supporting ligaments, and which everyone gets, beginning around age 40. “Presby-” meaning “old,” and “opia” meaning “vision.”

May ask a related question?

Yesterday at my eye exam, the doctor told me I have a congenital condition similar to cataracts. He told me its name, but I’m having trouble remembering it. All I remember is that it was “Y- something.” I’d like to know so I can tell my folks about it.

Anyway, he said something along the lines of when the cells of my lens were forming, they failed to do so properly, resulting in a condition similar to cataracts. He said it’s not considered a big deal, and it doesn’t affect my vision. In fact, until he mentioned it to me, I never knew I had it, and I’ve had many eye doctors and eye examinations almost annually for 25 years now. It came as quite a surprise… and that’s what I’m blaming my forgetting its name on. :wink:

Googling turned up little as I had few keywords to work with.

Any ideas what he was talking about?

If nothing else, you can call up your doc tomorrow and ask him.

I found uveitis, but that seems more severe than what your doctor indicated, so I don’t think that’s it. It does sound like it starts with “Y” though, and it can cause lens or cornea cloudiness.

Q.E.D. - Uveitis is a serious condition and it would be beyond belief for a physician to say it’s “not considered a big deal”. I’ll also note that the link you provded is incomplete and omits much important information.

I did say I didn’t think that was it due to the severity.

I could ask him when it’s time for my follow-up appointment, but I thought I’d ask in case anyone could tell me.

Also, by “Y-something”, I meant that “Y” is actually in the name. It’s not that the condition’s name starts with the “Y” sound. From what I remember of his explanation, the cells of the lens grow from an inverted Y shape (think BMW symbol). The cells grow improperly from this state, thus the condition’s name.

I appreciate your research efforts, though. Thank you.