A cataract is a cloudy, dense area that forms in the lens of the eye.

A cataract begins to happen when proteins in the eye form clumps that prevent the lens from sending clear images to the retina.

The retina functions by converting the light that comes through the lens into signals. It sends the signals to the brain through optic nerve.It develops gradually as you age and eventually interferes with your vision. One might end up with cataracts in both eyes, but they usually don’t form at the same time. Cataracts are common in older people.

Symptoms of Cataract:

Blurry vision
Colours that seem faded
Sunlight, headlights or lamps may seem too bright. You may also see a halo around lights.
Not being able to see well at night
Double vision
Frequent prescription changes in your eye-wear


Risk factors:
Besides advancing age, cataract risk factors include:
Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and other sources
Diabetes
Hypertension
Obesity
Smoking
Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
Statin medicines used to reduce cholesterol
Previous eye injury or inflammation
Previous eye surgery
Hormone replacement therapy
Significant alcohol consumption
High myopia
Family history

Diagnosis:

Your doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam to check for cataracts and to assess your vision. This will include an eye test chart to check your vision at different distances and tonometry to measure your eye pressure.

Retinal exam. To prepare for a retinal exam, your doctor puts eye drops in your eyes to open your pupils wide (dilate).
This way it makes easier to examine the back of your eyes (retina) using a slit lamp or a special device called an ophthalmoscope.

Other tests might include checking your sensitivity to glare and your perception of colours.

Treatment:

Surgery is recommended when cataracts prevent you from doing your daily activities, such as reading or driving.

If you’re not willing and disinterested in surgery, your doctor may be able to help you manage your symptoms. They may suggest stronger eyeglasses, magnifying lenses, or sunglasses with an anti-glare coating.
When prescribed glasses can’t clear your vision, the only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery.

Surgical procedures:

The operation involves removing the dense, cloudy lens from the eye and putting an artificial, clear, plastic one in its place. This is called an intraocular implant or an intraocular lens.

If both eyes need operating, this will usually be done with a gap of 4 weeks

Prevention:

  1. Have regular eye exams
  2. Stop smoking
  3. Maintain a healthy weight
  4. Keep diabetes and other medical conditions in check
  5. Limit your night driving
  6. Wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight may help to delay cataracts.
  7. Higher dietary intake of vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin and carotenoids decrease the risk of cataracts
  8. Good sources of vitamin E include almonds, sunflower seeds and spinach.
  9. Good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include spinach, kale and other green, leafy vegetables.

-Dr Krishna Priya

References:

https://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-cataract-and-refractive-surgery/recent-articles
https://www.nature.com/articles/nrdp201514


 

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