What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding that develops in the crystalline lens of the eye or in its envelope, varying in degree from slight to complete opacity and obstructing the passage of light. Cataracts typically progress slowly to cause vision loss and are potentially blinding if untreated. The condition usually affects both the eyes, but almost always one eye is affected earlier than the other. It cannot spread from one eye to the other.
What are the symptoms of a cataract?
The most common symptoms of a cataract are:
• Cloudy or blurry vision.
• Colors seem faded.
• Glare – headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
• Poor night vision.
• Double vision or multiple images in one eye. (This symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.)
• Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
What Causes Cataracts?
The lens lies behind the iris and the pupil. It works much like a camera lens. It focuses light onto the retina at the back of the eye, where an image is recorded. The lens also adjusts the eye’s focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away. The lens is made of mostly water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and let’s light pass through it.
But as we age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. This causes cataract. Cataracts develop for a variety of reasons, including:
• Long-term exposure to ultraviolet light
• Exposure to radiations like microwave, ultraviolet, infrared etc.
• Secondary effects of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and advanced age, or trauma (possibly much earlier)
• Genetic factors are often a cause
• Cataracts may also be produced by eye injury or physical trauma.
• Atopic or allergic conditions are also known to quicken the progression of cataracts, especially in children
• Personal behavior such as smoking and alcohol use.
What can I do to protect my vision?
• Wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight may help to delay cataract.
• Quit smoking and intake of alcohol.
• Good nutrition can help reduce the risk of age-related cataract. Eating green leafy vegetables, fruit, and other foods with antioxidants can help.
• If you are age 60 or older, you should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years.
How is a cataract treated?
The symptoms of early cataract may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If these measures do not help, surgery is the only effective treatment. Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.
A cataract needs to be removed only when vision loss interferes with your everyday activities, such as driving, reading, or watching TV. You and your eye care professional can make this decision together.
If you have cataracts in both eyes that require surgery, the surgery will be performed on each eye at separate times, usually four to eight weeks apart.
After the natural lens has been removed, it often is replaced by an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL). An IOL is a clear, plastic lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of your eye. Light is focused clearly by the IOL onto the retina, improving your vision. You will not feel or see the new lens.
Cataract surgery is a simple, relatively painless procedure to regain vision. It is very successful in restoring vision.
Early treatment for many eye diseases may save your sight!
(This is an informative article which has been published.)
Source: Internet and Medical Practitioner