In this Health Article:
IntroductionCataract in human eyes can cause blurred and hazy vision. The human eye has a natural lens which abets vision clarity; disturbance in this natural lens could cause cataract. Cataract in simple terms means some formation over the natural lens of the eye; the formation is usually termed as cloudy formation. This cloudy formation in the natural lens will obstruct clear vision; visibility in a person with cataract will be something like looking through a misty or cloudy glass.
Cataract is not painful and does not irritate the person. Cataract can appear in both the eyes or in just one eye. Cataract is common in people aged above sixty.
What Causes Cataracts?The natural lens of the human eye is located right behind the iris (the colored portion of the eye) and the pupil (hole in the middle of the eye). This natural lens focuses light which in turn passes through the cornea (protects the clear tissue of the eye) and the pupil. This process produces clear images on the retina. When cataract covers the natural lens, the light gets scattered and affects the clear image produced by the retina. This causes blurred vision. Cataract can appear in any area of the natural lens.
The most common causes for cataract are
- Flexibility and transparency of lens reduces with age.
- The lens gets thicker with age.
- Contribution of protein fibers in the lens diminishes with age.
- Diabetes, UV rays, eye trauma, intraocular inflammation, steroids, smoking cab contributes to cataract in young people.
What Are the Types of Cataracts?
In general cataracts can be classified into three types.Cortical: Lens cortex is the outer area of the lens. A whitish, wedge-shaped opacity or streak is formed on the outer edge of the lens cortex. As it spreads the cataract spreads over to the center and obstructs light from passing through thus producing hazy vision. People with this type of cataract have glare problems.
Congenital or Infantile cataract: This type of cataract crops up just after birth or during the first year. This cataract has to be operated upon immediately else it might hinder vision in the affected eye.
Nuclear: This type of cataracts form at the center of the lens. With the initial onset people tend to develop nearsightedness and have an improved clarity in vision because of the varying light focuses. As the cataract spreads vision is blurred and reading gets difficult. Night reading and driving is a difficult task for such people.
Sub Capsular: This type of cataract begins from the tiny, opaque area beneath the capsule. The cataract forms exactly on the path of the light thus reducing vision in bright light. Reading gets difficult and regular glares and halos occur. This cataract spreads quickly and affects the vision very quickly too.
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Other types of Cataracts:Traumatic cataract: Cataract resulting from trauma, e.g. eye injury
Radiation cataract: Exposure to few types of radiation can cause cataract in a person.
Secondary cataract: Any eye problem like glaucoma can cause cataract in a person. People with diabetes can also develop cataract.
What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts?The most common symptoms experienced by people suffering from cataract are
- Unclear or cloudy vision
- Halos appear in the region of light
- Double vision or multiple images in each of the eye
- Need for bright light to read and for other activities
- Sensitive to light and glare
- Regular changes in lens or glass prescription
- Yellowing or fading of colors
- Vision obstruction during nights
What Are the Diagnosis & Tests for Cataracts?Cataract can be detected and diagnosed after a series of tests, common tests to detect cataract are
Retinal examination: Pupil is dilated to study the natural lens, clouding of the lens can be determined through this test.
Visual acuity test: Acuity means how sharply a person can see an object thus referring to the sharpness of his/her vision. The patient will be asked to read letters from a chart placed across the room. The patient should cover the right eye and read through the left eye and repeat the process with the left eye covered. Reading and distance vision of the patient is studied.
Slit-lamp examination: This lamp is used to magnify the eye structure. The slit in the microscope lights up the cornea, lens, iris, and the gap between your iris and cornea. The slit in the microscope permits the doctor to visualize and study these parts in small sections.
Contrast sensitivity testing: The patient is asked to differentiate between the various shades of gray.
Glare testing: Vision is studied under different lightings to check the glare effect in the patient.
Tonometry: Fluid pressure of the eye is studied in his test.
Refraction: Studying the vision to check if glasses can improve the vision quality.
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What Are the Treatments Cataracts?The most effective treatment for cataract is surgery; surgically removing the cataract benefits the patient immensely. If the lens is too cloudy it is replaced by another clear lens (clear lens implant). If lenses are not implanted glasses or contact lenses are prescribed after the surgery. Only one eye at a time is operated for cataract, 95% of the cataract surgeries are successful. Surgery is performed under the influence of local anesthesia.
Recovery is pretty fast and the patient can resume regular work from the same night of the surgery. Cataracts cannot be cured through medications, optical devices, dietary supplements, or exercises.
How Do You Cope Up with Cataracts?If you are affected by cataract remember, you are not alone. More than 5 million Americans suffer from degenerative eye diseases; cataract is one such degenerative eye disease. Practice these simple methodologies to cope with cataract
- Keep a control over your Blood Pressure and blood sugar.
- Check for clarity of vision, if you feel you are having clouded vision or blurred vision, visit your doctor immediately.
- Wear sunglasses to block the harmful UVA and UVB radiations.
- Check your vision regularly using the Amsler grid.
- Eat plenty of greens, and leafy vegetables.
- If you have discomfort driving in the nights, do not ignore it, check with the doctor immediately. Avoid driving in the nights in such cases.
- If glare is troubling you avoid glare and check for the reason, try avoiding glare as much as possible.
- Do not follow self medication; follow the guidelines laid by your physician.
- Do not use over the counter eye drops for dullness in vision.
What Are the Ways to Prevent Cataracts?The key to healthy eyes is checking them regularly. Cataract formation in the eye cannot be stopped but prevention can help to a certain extent
Eat healthy: Eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Check for other health problems: If you have health problems such as diabetes, ensure you take the medications on time and keep a control over the condition. Diabetes, if not kept under control can lead to eye problems.
Quit smoking: Smoking can cause cataracts as smoking produces free radicals.
Wear sunglasses: While stepping out in the sun; use a pair of sunglasses as this will prevent the harmful UV rays from damaging your eyes.
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- Use magnifying glasses to read
- Illuminate your home with bright lights
- Wear sunglasses
- Restrict night driving
- If you have power, check for increase or decrease in power and change spectacles or lenses as per the current power requirements.