What is a cataract and how to treat them?
The word “cataract” is derived from the Greek word katarraktes which loosely translates to waterfall. It was believed that a congealed fluid from the brain had flowed in front of the lens of the eyes. Today, eye cataract is defined as the clouding of the lens of your eyes.
When proteins present in the eye form clumps, it muddles the vision with a cloudy, hazy outline. It gradually develops and starts interfering with your vision and unless treated could lead to total blindness.
Some of the symptoms of cataract include:
- Cloudy/milky/foggy/blurry vision
- Poor night vision
- Seeing a halo (glare) around lights specially when looking at headlights in the night
- Double vision in few cases in the affected eye
- Seeing a fading in colours
- Need for brighter reading light
- Growing sensitivity to sunlight and bright lights
- Frequent prescription changes for glasses
What causes cataracts?
The major cause for cataract is age. Other than that, various factors can cause the formation of cataracts like:
- Previous or untreated eye injury
- Previous eye surgery
- UV radiation
- Long exposure to sunlight
- Over usage of certain medications
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Nuclear cataract – The most common type of cataract, nuclear cataracts form as one ages and the lens of the eyes gets cloudy and turns yellow. Over time, this yellowish tint can turn brown impacting your visual and making it hard to read and tell the difference between various colours.
- Posterior Subcapsular cataract – These cataracts form in the back of your eyes. This results in increasing sensitivity to light and seeing halos and glares around bright lights. This cataract progresses much faster.
- Cortical cataract – This cataract starts at the periphery of the lens with white streaks that gradually progresses inwards towards the center. Vision impairment can happen depending on the position of the white or wedge shaped opacities.
- Senile cataract – This type of cataract is formed with the advancement of age and is characterized by the gradual progressive visual deterioration, clouding and thickening of the lens. It is also the world’s leading reason for treatable blindness.
- Rosette cataract – It is a type of traumatic cataract generally associated with blunt injury to the eye. Rosette or stellate-shaped cataracts can also be associated with diabetes
- Intumescent cataract – It is a mature cataract that progresses and makes the lens to swell. This may also lead to acute galucoma
Risk factors – These factors can increase the likelihood of developing cataracts
- High blood pressure
- Steroid medication
- Family History
Diagnosis – A thorough eye examination by an ophthalmologist is recommended to determine the presence of a cataract. A comprehensive medical eye examination should be done. This is achieved by the following tests:
- Visual Acuity test – This test will assess the clarity and sharpness of your vision. Here, each eye will be tested individually to check the ability of the eye to see letters of different sizes placed at a distance.
- Slit-lamp exam – A special microscope is used in this test to examine the cornea, iris, lens and other parts of the eye. This lens bends light as it enters into the eye making it easier for the ophthalmologist to spot abnormalities.
- Retinal exam – Here, eye drops are put in the eyes to widen the pupils. The ophthalmologist can examine the retina and optic nerves and to also look for glaucoma.
Treatment – The only way to do cataracts treatment is through surgery. It isn’t necessary to go for surgery just because there is cataracts. Cataract operation is only considered when it causes enough vision impairment to fulfil daily activities like reading, driving, work etc.
The following are the different types of surgeries for cataracts:
- To insert a device that produces ultrasound waves. These waves break the cloudy lens. Once the broken particles are removed, an intraocular lens is implanted in the natural lens capsule.
- Extracapsular surgery – Also known as large-incision surgery, a larger cut is made so that the entire affected part can be removed in one piece instead of being fragmented and then replaced with an intraocular lens.
- Femtosecond laser surgery – This is a computer-guided laser surgery cataract treatment that is programmed by the surgeon to break up the affected lens.
Cataracts are completely treatable. If you’re unsure you require surgery, get in touch with us today to know if you require surgery and details of cataract operation cost. Book an appointment now.
Prevention – Cataract prevention can be done if proper care is taken. Some of them include:
- Regular eye check-ups
- Quitting smoking
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Eating fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants
- Wearing UV blocking sunglasses while going out in sunlight