Last updated date: 20-Aug-2023
Originally Written in English
A cataract is a hazy, dense region that occurs in the eye's lens. If proteins within the eye clump together, the lens cannot convey clearer images to the retina, resulting in a cataract. The retina converts light that enters the eye via the lens into signals. These signals are sent to the optic nerve, which then travels to the brain.
Cataracts are widespread among the elderly. It progresses slowly and eventually obstructs your eyesight. Cataracts can form in both eyes, but they don't normally develop at the same time. Luckily, surgical intervention is a safe and effective way of addressing the condition in most patients.
Types of Cataract
A cataract comes in various forms, divided into categories based on where and how they appear in the eye. The following are some of the types of cataract;
Nuclear cataract: This develops in the middle of the lens, turning the nucleus or the core yellowish or brown.
Cortical cataract: This is a wedge-shaped cataract that occurs along the borders of the nucleus.
Posterior capsular cataract: This usually develops rapidly unlike nuclear and cortical cataract and involve back of the lens.
Secondary cataract: A disease or drugs are the common causes of secondary cataract. Glaucoma and diabetes are two diseases that have been associated with the development of this cataract. Also, the steroid prednisone, use as well as other drugs can cause secondary cataracts in some people.
Congenital cataract: This develops during the child’s first year or is present right from birth. It is less prevalent, unlike age-related cataracts.
Traumatic cataract: Following an eye injury, a traumatic cataract can develop. However, it might take a few years for this to occur.
Radiation cataracts: This can develop when a cancer patient receives radiation treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Cataract
A cataract in the eye can cause the following signs and symptoms:
- A vision that is clouded, hazy, or dull
- Night vision becomes increasingly difficult.
- Light and glare sensitivity
- The need for bright light when reading and doing other tasks
- Seeing "halos" that surround the lights
- Frequent modification in the eyeglass or the contact lens prescriptions
- Color fading or yellowing
- In one eye, there is double vision.
At first, the vision cloudiness due to a cataract can only impact a small portion of the eyes lens. Besides, you may be completely unaware of any loss of vision. The cataract increases in size, clouding more of the lens and distorting the light traveling through it. This could result in more obvious symptoms.
Causes of Cataract
The common causes of cataract include tissue changes that make up the lens of the eyes as a result of aging or an injury. Cataract tends to exacerbate due to inheritable genetic abnormalities that lead to other health issues.
Other eye diseases, previous eye surgery, or health conditions, including diabetes, can cause a cataract. Prolonged steroid medicines use might also lead to cataracts.
A cataract forms in the lens, which is located at the back of the colored area of the eye (iris). The lens concentrates light entering the eye, resulting in sharp and clear images on the retina. In other words, it is the eye’s light-sensitive membrane that works similarly to film in a camera.
The lenses within the eyes get less flexible, less clear, and thicker as you grow older. Tissues in the lens break down and cluster together as a result of aging and other health disorders. This clouds the small portions of the lens.
The clouding gets denser and covers a larger area of the lens as the cataract progresses. As the light goes via the lens, a cataract disperses and blocks it, hindering a highly defined picture from getting to the retina. Your vision will get hazy as a result of this.
Cataract forms in both eyes, although not in the same way. One eye's cataract might be more advanced, unlike the other, resulting in a disparity in eyesight between the two.
Risk Factors of Cataract
A cataract can also occur due to a number of risk factors, including:
- Getting older
- Excessive sunlight exposure
- Being obese
- High blood pressure
- Past inflammation or injury to the eye
- Previous ophthalmic surgery
- Use of corticosteroid medicines for a long time
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Radiation from x-ray exposure
The ophthalmologist will examine your eyes and analyze your medical history as well as the symptoms to determine if you have a cataract. Several tests can also be performed depending on the degree of the condition. They include;
- Vision acuity test
An eye chart can be used to measure the manner in which one can read a sequence of letters during a visual acuity exam. One of your eyes will be checked at a time as the other remains covered.
- Slit-lamp examination
The eye doctor can use a slit light to magnify the structures in the front region of the eye. The microscope is known as the slit lamp since it illuminates the lens, cornea, iris, and the area between the cornea and iris with a strong light line called the slit. Through the slit, the doctor can examine these structures under small pieces. As a result, it makes it simple for him or her to spot any abnormalities.
- Retinal examination
The eye doctor will put a few drops in the eyes to help widen or dilate the pupils in preparation for a retinal test. Examining the back of the eyes becomes easy as a result of this. The doctor can then assess the lens for cataract signs with a slit lamp or equipment known as an ophthalmoscope.
Surgery is a common and effective way of treating cataracts. However, if surgery isn't an option for you or you don't want it, the ophthalmologist can assist you in managing the symptoms. They can recommend magnifying lenses, strong eyeglasses, or anti-glare coating sunglasses.
If the cataract hinders you from doing things you enjoy, like reading and driving, your doctor will recommend cataract surgery. They can also conduct the procedure if cataract prevents other eye disorders from being treated.
Phacoemulsification is a surgical procedure that uses ultrasonic waves to split the lens apart and take out the pieces. On the other hand, extracapsular surgery entails the removal of the clouded region of the lens via a large incision made on the cornea. Following the operation, an artificial intraocular lens is implanted in the place of the natural lens.
A cataract removal surgery is relatively safe with a higher rate of success. Bleeding, infection, and retinal detachment are some of the side effects of cataract surgery. However, all of these complications occur in less than one percent of the cases. The majority of patients are able to return home the same day as their procedure.
When should you consider cataract surgery?
Consult your eye doctor to determine if surgery is appropriate for you. At times, the cataract starts to compromise your quality of life or affect your capability to do day-to-day activities like reading and driving during the night. In such cases, most eye physicians often recommend contemplating a cataract removal surgery.
If cataract surgery is appropriate for you, then it is up to you as well as your provider to decide. Most individuals do not rush to have a cataract removed since they do not damage the eye. Nevertheless, a cataract can sometimes get worse quickly in diabetic patients.
If you choose to have cataract surgery later, delaying the treatment usually has no impact on how well the eyesight returns. Consult your medical provider about the advantages and disadvantages of undergoing cataract surgery.
On the other hand, your doctor may advise you to have regular checkups to see how your cataracts are going. This usually happens if you decide not to have cataract surgery right away. Your current condition determines the frequency with which you visit your ophthalmologist.
There are no studies that have proven how to prevent or halt the advancement of cataracts. However, medical experts believe that the following strategies could be beneficial:
- Routine eye examination: Examination of the eyes can aid in the early detection of cataracts and other related issues. Inquire with your doctor about how often you need to have your eyes examined.
- Stop smoking: Seek assistance from your doctor on how to quit smoking. You can get treatment from medications, counseling, or other methods.
- Managing other medical issues: If you have diabetes or have any health problem that puts you at risk of getting a cataract, stick to your treatment regimen.
- Put on the sunglasses: The sun's ultraviolet rays may play a role in the formation of cataracts. Therefore, whenever you are outside, wear sunglasses to obstruct ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
- Limit alcohol consumption: Excessive use of alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of cataracts.
- Make an effort to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables.
It's common to develop a cataract and eyesight difficulties as you become older. However, you do not need to put up with the situation.
Cataract surgery is one of the safe and most successful surgical procedures available. Besides, it's a quick and painless procedure. It also restores vision in about 90 percent of patients and is rarely associated with any serious risks.