Patient's Complete Guide to Cataract
Overview of Cataract
Cataract (موتیا بند)is an ocular abnormality in which dense cloudiness is formed around the lens. In this condition, the view becomes frosty and unclear. It makes daily routine tasks difficult such as reading or driving. Initially, cataracts are harmless and don’t affect the vision. They can be managed by strong light and eyeglasses.
However, if cataracts hinder the daily routine activities surgical treatment is recommended. Cataract surgery is a risk-free and successful procedure.
Occurrence of Cataracts
Cataracts often affect people above age 60. It may appear after 40 years of age but severely affect after 60. According to a study, nuclear cataract accounts for 13.1%, cortical cataracts 8% and posterior subcapsular cataracts 3.4% of all cataract cases.
Signs and Symptoms of Cataract
Some common signs and symptoms of cataracts are:
- Clouded, blurred or dim vision
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Increasing difficulty with vision at night
- Need brighter light for reading
- Double vision
- "Halos" around lights
- Colours appear faded
Types of Cataract
Cataracts have been classified on the basis of their effects:
Nuclear Cataracts: Nuclear cataracts affect the lens in the centre. It momentarily improves reading vision. However, after some time, the lens becomes yellow that blurs the vision. With time, the lens turns dark brown that affects the ability of the lens to distinguish between colours.
Cortical Cataracts: Cortical cataracts affect the corners of the lens. They arise as white lines on the outer edges of the lens. After some time, the lines spread to the centre of the lens affect the lens ability to pass light
Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts: Posterior cataracts affect the backside of the lens. They start as a tiny opaque area at the back of the lens. Posterior Subcapsular cataracts cause:
- Difficulties in reading
- Decrease the vision in bright light
- Halos around lights
Congenital Cataracts: Cataracts that are present at the time of birth. Sometimes people develop cataracts during childhood. These cataracts can be due to a faulty gene or intrauterine infection. Congenital cataracts may not affect the vision, however, if they do the problem can be easily solved. There are some conditions that can cause congenital cataracts such as:
- Myotonic dystrophy
- Neurofibromatosis type 2 or rubella
Causes of Cataract
Often, cataracts develop due to ageing or any damage to the lens's tissues.
Sometimes genetic problems responsible for medical conditions can increase the risks of cataracts. Some other eye conditions can also be contributing factors such as:
- Eye surgery
- Prolonged use of steroid drugs
How Cataract is Developed
Cataracts develop behind the iris-part of the eye responsible for eye colour. The light is focused by the lens to create images on the retina. With age, the lens's tissues tore and clumped which resulted in cloud formation in the lens. The clouding continuously grows and becomes thicker and covers the entire lens. As a result, the light disperses after entering the lens that hinders the formation of a clear image. This causes blurred vision.
Both eyes can be affected, but the extent of cataracts can be different. The cataract in one eye can be more developed as compared to the other that can cause differences in vision.
Risk Factors of Cataract
There are some factors that can increase the risk of cataracts, such as:
- Prolonged stay in sunlight
- High blood pressure
- Previous eye surgery
- Previous eye damage or inflammation
- Long-term use of corticosteroid drugs
- Abuse of alcohol
Health Complications of Cataract
Some of the complications of untreated cataracts are given below:
Hyper-Mature Cataracts- Cataracts can become hyper mature. It means that the risk involved in the removal of this cataract is ten folds. But diagnosis and treatment can save eye vision.
Impaired Vision- Cataracts can impair central and peripheral vision. This increases the chances of accidental injuries.
Permanent Vision Loss- Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Glaucoma- Cataracts increase the risk of glaucoma.
Given below are certain preventive strategies that can lower the risk of cataracts:
Quitting smoking can be the best preventive measure not only for the maintenance of your lungs but also for your eyes.
Maintain a Good Overall Health
In the case of other medical conditions such as diabetes and health issues, a person is more susceptible to the development of cataracts. That is why make sure to maintain stable overall health.
Have Regular Eye Examinations
Regular eye examinations can help a person to detect eye problems at an early pace. This early diagnosis is highly crucial for the proper treatment of eye issues.
To confirm the cataract the eye specialist often inquires about medical history, symptoms and asks for an eye examination. Following tests are performed to diagnose cataracts:
- Visual Acuity Test: This test determines if the vision is impaired. In these tests, a person has to read a list of letters on a chart. At a time only one eye is tested by covering the other. If a person can read a series of small letters without any difficulty the vision is 20/20.
- Slit-lamp Examination: In this test, a microscope called slit-lamp is used for examination. This microscope produces a line of sharp light that illuminates all the parts of the eye. This test is performed to examine cataracts under high magnifying power.
- Retinal Exam: Before this test, the doctor may put particular drops in the eyes to dilate the pupils. In this way, the back of the lens can be examined easily. An ophthalmoscope is used to check for the signs of cataracts.
Treatment of Cataract | When to Consult a Doctor
The best approach for cataract treatment is surgery. However, if a person is not interested, the doctor may suggest other ways to relieve the symptoms such as:
- Magnifying lenses
Surgery is required if cataracts interfere with daily routine tasks. It is also recommended if it hinders the treatment of eye diseases.
Phacoemulsification: A procedure in which sound waves shatter the lens and remove the pieces.
Extracapsular Surgery: In this procedure, an incision is made in the cornea to remove the cloudiness. After surgery, an artificial lens is inserted into the eye.
Surgical removal of cataracts is a safe and risk-free procedure. You can go home immediately after surgery and perform your daily activities.
If you experience any signs and symptoms of cataracts that are persistent and worrisome seek medical care as soon as possible.