1. Cataracts occur in everyone. Just like gray hair, some people get it early in life and some later in life.
2. Patients with diabetes, as a whole, get cataracts earlier in life.
3. While laser can theoretically cause cataracts (though it would be difficult), it is not uncommon to develop diabetic retinopathy and cataracts at the same time.
4. In most cases when cataracts are removed, a intraocular lens is placed inside the eye - the intraocular lens is (nowadays) made of soft, foldable acrylic or silicone based material which allows the IOL (intraocular lens) to be inserted into the eye through a smaller incision (hole), and thus, facilitates faster healing. Once inside the eye, the lens unrolls into its normal shape.
I am not sure if this is what you mean by hard or soft lens?
Contact lenses are placed on the outside of the eye and are usually referred to as either hard or soft. They, too, can sometimes be used instead of placing an IOL inside the eye.
Hope this was helpful.
Randall Wong, M.D.Retina Specialist