Cataracts- Definition, Symptoms, Diagnosing, Treatment
The human eye is an extremely complicated structure with many delicate parts that help us see. Among the several delicate internal parts of the eye, the lens is an extremely important part. It can bend light in a way that aids us in seeing around us. However, our eyes can develop some issues that affect our vision with age. Among the numerous vision issues that occur as our eyes age, the most commonly observed vision is the development of cataracts.
Usually, it affects people above the age of 60. However, there are several cases where people younger than the age of 60 have been affected due to cataracts. As a cataract can cause several vision issues, it is important to understand it and ensure that proper relief is provided.
What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is a thick cloud-like area that develops in the eye’s lens. It begins when the proteins in the eye start forming a mass of proteins that reduces the eye’s ability to send clear images to the retina. As it develops slowly, the cataract can develop in either eye. Several different types of cataracts can occur.
- Age-Related Cataract
With age, an individual’s eyes can face difficulty focusing on objects irrespective of the distance. However, a cataract can occur due to natural changes in the eye’s lens, known as age-related cataracts. It can occur due to the following activities:
- Consume steroid-based medicines for a long time
- Have undergone eye surgeries like a glaucoma surgery
- A family history of cataracts
- Have been diagnosed with Diabetes
- Smoking and drinking
- Traumatic Cataract
A traumatic cataract occurs when there is a serious injury to the eye. It can lead to a lot of damage and cause cataracts. The cataract could form quickly after the injury or take some time to develop.
- Radiation Cataract
Some types of radiation can cause cataracts in the eye, including UV rays from the sun and radiation treatment for cancer.
- Pediatric Cataract
Although it seems uncommon, children can be born with cataracts, also known as congenital cataracts or develop them later. It can be caused due to serious issues during pregnancy or an illness like uveitis or tumours in the eye.
- Secondary Cataract
A secondary cataract or posterior capsule opacification occurs after the individual has undergone cataract surgery. In such a situation, the eye’s lens becomes cloudy again and can be removed with laser surgery.
With all the types of cataracts mentioned here, it is important to understand the symptoms that can help in cataracts. Doing so will make it easier for you to understand the causes of cataracts and get proper medical attention for such a vision issue.
Causes of Cataracts
As individuals age, their body also starts to see a decline in functioning. It includes the gradual reduction in the proper functioning of various organs, including the eyes. Although the most common cause of a cataract in either eye is ageing, other factors can be included in the list that mentions the causes of cataract. All of these have been mentioned as follows:
- Family history of having cataracts
- Medical or health issues like Diabetes
- Smoking or drinking
- Any injury, surgery or trauma to the eye or radiation in the upper body
- Vision issues due to damaging UV rays from the sun
- Specific medications that contain corticosteroids that lead to the formation of a cataract
After the causes of a cataract have been identified, it will help understand the most common symptoms. In addition, it will help in getting to know the best ways to treat symptoms of cataract in the best way possible.
Symptoms of Cataract
The lens of our eyes is made up of water and proteins, which can break down over time. However, with no way out of the eye, these broken-down proteins cloud the eye lens, making it difficult to see through the affected eye. Although cataracts are an extremely natural part of the eye’s ageing process, the following symptoms are the best way to understand if you are starting to suffer from a cataract in the eyes:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Faded appearance of colours
- Vision issues in darkness or at night
- Light sources appear too bright
- Presence of a halo around artificial light sources
- Rapidly changing prescription lenses
The initial cloudiness of your vision may affect a small section of the eye lens. However, as the cataract grows, it distorts the light passing through the lens and causes increased blurriness. It can then lead to more noticeable symptoms of cataracts as it progresses.
After the symptoms of cataract have been described earlier, it is important to get a proper diagnosis. It will greatly help the eye care provider diagnose and treat the symptoms properly. In addition, the diagnosis will make it easier for you to understand if there is a need for any specific medical treatments that can help you see clearly. Here are the two most common ways through which an eye care provider can diagnose the eyes for cataracts:
- Visual Acuity Test
The visual acuity test is another way to say an eye chart exam. You will be asked to read a series of letters through this exam. Each row decreases in size, which is done for both eyes. Also, a glare test is done that shines a bright light into your eyes and reads the letters on the chart.
- Slit-lamp exam
A slit-lamp exam is done with the help of a microscope that has bright light. It helps the eye care provider to check different parts of the eyes, especially the cornea and the clear outer layer behind it. In addition, since the lens bends the light while entering the eye, it becomes easier to see the inner parts of the eye.
- Retinal Exam
When the retinal exam is done, the eye care provider puts drops that widen the pupils. Doing so allows them to analyse the retina and the back of the eye, which helps in understanding the progression of the cataract.
After the diagnosis is completed, the eye care provider can now ensure that a proper treatment method is formulated for the individual having vision issues due to the symptoms of cataract.
Treatments for Cataracts
After the diagnosis of a cataract has been completed, the eye care provider will decide to treat it according to the following details:
- Overall health and medical history
- Any ongoing illnesses
- Allergies or reactions to specific medications, therapies or procedures
- Duration of the surgery
Although the symptoms of a cataract can look very similar to other conditions or medical problems, it is a good idea always to meet your eye care provider. They can provide a proper diagnosis in case of a cataract in your eyes. Initially, a cataract and its symptoms can be managed with the help of variable eyeglasses, stronger light sources or a magnifying glass.
Therefore, it can be clearly understood that the option of surgery is considered one of the last steps. After that, the decision to remove the cataract affecting the eye can be taken along with the advice of the eye care provider. Understanding how to prevent cataracts from developing after 60 years of age.
How can I prevent Cataracts?
Earlier, the definition of cataracts and the types of cataracts were explained. Additionally, the symptoms of cataract and the causes of cataract have been mentioned and explained in detail. However, it becomes important to understand the best ways to know how it can become easier to prevent cataracts. The points mentioned below are some of the best ways that reduce the risk of developing cataracts in future:
- Wearing sunglasses that block UVB rays
- Get a regular eye checkup
- Stop smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Keep a check on any medical conditions
A healthy diet also contributes to the delay in developing a cataract in your eyes. However, other issues can lead to the development of a cataract in your eyes, like a traumatic injury, as mentioned previously. Therefore, it becomes important to ensure that a proper course of treatment is followed to reduce the vision issues that occur due to a cataract.
Treatment for Cataracts
A cataract is a gradual progression that leads to the affected individual’s issues with clear vision. Therefore, removing the cataract at one point is important, which can help reduce the vision issues accompanying it. In addition, the following points can help understand the types of treatments provided for an individual.
- New glasses or contacts
A new pair of eyeglasses or contacts can help see clearly in the early stages of cataract.
Two types of surgeries are done in case the cataract is causing a lot of vision issues and pain. These have been explained as follows:
- Phacoemulsification uses ultrasound waves to break the cataract apart and remove the pieces.
- Extracapsular surgery removes the cloudy lens through a long incision in the cornea. After the surgery, an artificial intraocular lens is placed in the space left where the natural lens was located.
Nikon Lenswear has created a wide range of lenses that help protect your eyes from cataract. However, it is important to remember that the symptoms of cataract can be caused due to exposure to UV rays from the sun. Taking proper precautions and conscious changes in your diet can reduce the risk of developing cataracts later in life.
What are the first signs of having cataracts?
The first signs of cataracts are signified by blurry vision, a halo ring around light sources and issues in focusing on the object in front of them.
What happens when you have cataracts?
The individual will suffer from minor vision issues and blurriness when cataracts occur. It will also be accompanied by severe pain or sensitivity to light.
What age do cataracts usually start?
Cataracts usually occur in people above the age of 60 years. However, it can also occur due to some form of trauma or injury to the eye.