What is a Cataract?
Cataracts are one of the most common reason for vision loss in people who are aged above 40.
It is an eye condition where a cloudy layer forms on the surface of your eye and this hinders your vision.
While congenital cataracts is seen in infants at birth or during infancy, age-related cataracts is developed as people age.
Symptoms & Causes
While blurry and clouded vision is the most common symptoms of cataract, below are a few other prominent ones.
- Double vision
- Difficulty seeing at night or in dark
- Light halos
- Seeing faded colors
- Sensititvity to light
- Frequently changiing sight readings
While smoking is one of the most common reasons to develop cataracts, there are many more underlying causes.
- Genetic disorders
- Past eye surgery or injuries
- Use of certain medication and steroids
- Exposure to ultraviolet radiation
Risks of developing cataracts
Below are some of the common risks fo developing cataracts
- Old age
- Excessive drinking of alcohol
- High blod pressure
- Family history
- Prolonged exposure to direct sun
- Exposure to X-ray and cancer radiation
How a cataract forms
Cataracts forms gradually rather than appearing all of a sudden. While in most cases it can develop on both eyes, it does not happen at the same time.
The colored part of your eyes, the Iris, acts as a camera by focusing light to pass and form a clear and sharp image on the retina.
However, as you age, these lenses become less flexible and thicker due to the above causes and risk factors, eventually breaking down and clumping together.
As the condition develops, the clouding worsens by becoming thicker and preventing more light from entering. As a result, your vision becomes blurry and compromised.
Types of cataracts
While there are many types of cataracts and that are seen in different individuals, below are the common ones.
Nuclear cataracts: It is condition where the center of the lens becomes yellow or brown and makes it difficult to distinguish between color shades.
Cortical cataracts: It begins as a white wedge-shaped streaks on the outer edge of the lens and gradually progresses towards the center or the nucleus. As a result, it interferes with the light passing through it and compromises your vision.
Posterior subcapsular cataracts: It begins as a small opaque area at the back of the lens and gradually but steady develops into a full blow one. This type of cataract forms faster than the other types of cataracts. Posterior cataracts reduces your vision in bright lights and also causes glares and halos.
Congenital cataracts: These cataracts are found in newly born infants or during birth. These are usually caused due to genetics. While these usually do not hinder with the sight, they are removed as soon as detected.
Other types of cataracts are secondary, traumatic, and radiation cataracts that are caused due to usage of certain medication, involving injury, or exposure to radiation.
How to prevent cataracts?
While there is no set or confirmed method to prevent cataracts, a few lifestyle changes can definitely cut the risk of developing it or delaying it.
- Quit smoking and cut down or reduce alcohol consumption.
- Maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Consult doctor to manage your other health problems.
- Use sunglasses whenever you step out in the sun.
- Get regular eye examinations.
When to see a doctor?
Similar to any other eye condition or health disorder for that matter, it is recommended to see a Doctor as soon as you notice the first signs of compromised vision or changes in vision.
How are cataracts diagnosed?
This involves Tests to determine your Vision from various distances, measuring eye pressure, detecting any damages in the optical nerve and retina, and checking light sensitivity and perception of colors.
Surgery is the go-to treatment for cataracts. While there are usually two types, one is to use ultrasound waves to break the clumps on the lens apart, the most common surgery method is to create an incision in the lens and replace the cloudy part with an artificial one.
This type of surgery is highly successful and is also safe.
While cataracts may remain the same without developing further, it never clears on its own. However, if left untreated, it can cause blindness gradually. So it is always recommended to Consult a Doctor as soon as you detect any issue with your vision or overall health.