Cataracts: Is it a serious disease to worry?

A cataract is a dense, cloudy area that forms in the eye’s lenses. It begins when the proteins in the eye form clumps that prevent the lens from sending clear images to the retina. When light falls on the retina, retina converts the light into signals. Later the signals are sent to the optic nerve that carries them to the brain. Cataracts develop slowly and eventually interfere with the vision. After having started in one eye, if not treated on time, cataract may spread to the other eye too – mostly always, they don’t form at the same time. Cataracts are most common in old people who are above 60 years old. In the starting stage, strong lighting and eyeglasses can help you deal with eye cataracts. But Impaired vision interferes with your usual activities, you must need cataract surgery. Fortunately, surgery is safe and effective.

Cataracts Symptoms:

Cataracts form slowly and one may not realize that they have it until they start to block light. Common symptoms are:

  • Blurry vision
  • Trouble seeing at night
  • Seeing colors as faded
  • Increased sensitivity to glare
  • Halos surrounding lights
  • Double vision in the affected eye
  • A need for frequent changes in prescription glasses

Causes of Cataract

There are many underlying causes of cataracts. These include:

  • Overproduction of oxidants, which are oxygen molecules that have been chemically altered due to normal daily life
  • Ultraviolet radiation
  • The long-term use of steroids and other medications
  • Certain diseases, such as diabetes
  • Trauma
  • Radiation therapy
  • Smoking

Types of Cataracts:

There are different types of cataracts. They are classified based on the place where they appear and how they develop in your eye:

  • Nuclear cataracts:They form in the middle of the lens and cause the nucleus or the center to become yellow or brown.
  • Cortical cataracts:These are wedge-shaped and form around the edges of the nucleus, called the cortex.
  • Posterior capsular cataracts:They form faster than the other two types and affect the back of the lens. They affect your close-up vision and make it harder to see it in broad daylight.
  • Congenital cataracts:These are present at birth or form during a baby’s first year, are less common than age-related cataracts. You may get it genetically, or due to an illness that your mother had at pregnancy time.
  • Secondary cataracts:These are caused by disease or medications. If it is caused by medical treatment or any other conditions then it is called secondary. Diabetes, steroids like prednisone, glaucoma, and even cataract surgery can cause this.
  • Traumatic cataracts:These develop after an eye injury. It can also cause even if you get hurt from a burn, chemical, or splinter. The cataract could come on soon or not show up until years later.
  • Radiation cataracts:These may form after a person undergoes radiation treatment for cancer. You can sometimes get eye cataracts if you spend more time in the sun without eye protection.

Risk Factors:

Some risk factors associated with cataracts include:

  • Older age
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Previous eye injuries
  • A family history of cataracts
  • Too much sun exposure
  • Diabetes
  • Exposure to radiation from X-rays and cancer treatments
  • High blood pressure

Cataracts Diagnosis

To find out if you have cataracts your doctor would conduct some tests to know the symptoms. So, that they can confirm which type you are having. Some tests include:

  • Visual acuity test:It is an eye chart exam. Your doctor will ask you to see and read letters of various sizes from a distance. It is to find out how sharp your vision is. First, you will try with one eye and next with the other. They may also do a glare test, where they shine a bright light in your eye and then ask you to read letters.
  • Slit-lamp exam:It uses a special microscope with bright lights and your doctor checks the different parts of your eye. They’ll look at your cornea — the outer layer. And then they’ll examine the iris — the colored part of your eye and the lens.
  • Retinal exam:Your doctor puts drops in your eye to widen your pupils, the dark spots in the middle that control how much light gets in. It helps them to have a good look at the retina — the tissue around the back of your eyes and a better view of the cataract.

Cataract Treatment

Cataracts are treated only with surgery. If you detected them in the early stage, your doctor may suggest you strong powered eyeglasses. If the glasses don’t do the work, he will suggest surgery which is the only way.

Cataract Surgery:

There are many types of cataracts treatment, but the thing common in all those is surgery. Your doctor will remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial one. He will give local anesthesia to numb your eye. You will be awake during the surgery, but you won’t feel anything. Surgery has a good response, more than 95% of the people who have this done said they saw better after surgery.

  • Small-incision surgery:It is also known as phacoemulsification. A tiny cut is made upon the cornea. They will insert a device that gives off ultrasound waves that break up your cloudy lens. Then, they replace the cut portion with an artificial lens.
  • Large-incision surgery:It is a rare surgery that doctors suggest for larger cataracts that cause more visible trouble than usual. It is called extracapsular cataract extraction. The process is the same as the previous one, but it takes more time to heal from this surgery.
  • Femtosecond laser surgery:It is laser surgery. He breaks up the lens with a laser. He suggests this surgery only if you have astigmatism, a curve of your cornea that makes your vision blurry.

After the surgery, your doctor will give you the prescription eye drops and glasses to cover the operated eye. Because, it is not safe to see directly with the operated eye. Hence, these are the types, signs, causes of cataracts. It is a common issue that every individual face after he got 60 years or above. There is no need to get panic as it can be treated. I hope this article will you with to get the knowledge on cataracts, its diagnosis methods and treatment.

Written by Jagannadh Ch