Cataracts

Signs and Symptoms to Look Out For and how to deal with the condition

What Are Cataracts?

A cataract is a cloudiness or opacity in the normally transparent crystalline lens of the eye. This cloudiness can cause a decrease in vision and may lead to eventual blindness.

Who Gets Cataracts?

Most people are familiar with age-related cataracts, typically affecting people over age 60.  However, there are other forms of cataracts, including:

  • Congenital cataracts: These cataracts are present at birth or form before age 1, and often occur with other birth defects. Mild cases may not affect vision, while moderate to severe cataracts are corrected with the same type of surgery performed on adults.
  • Radiation cataracts: These can be caused by exposure to certain amounts and kinds of radiation. Cataracts caused by high levels of exposure may take only a year or two to develop, while those caused by lower doses may take many years.
  • Secondary cataracts: Secondary cataracts are slightly misnamed. They occur in patients who have had their cataracts removed. A new lens is inserted when the cloudy lens is removed (see surgical section below), but the back part of the lens capsule stays in the eye and can become cloudy on its own, months or years later. The percentage of people who get secondary cataracts is small.
  • Traumatic cataracts: An eye that is injured through acute trauma can sustain many kinds of damage, including an induced cataract, over the ensuing weeks, months and years.

There are also names for cataracts depending on what part of your eye they affect:

  • Nuclear cataracts: Those that affect the center of your eye’s lens and typically develop more of a yellow or brown hue.
  • Cortical cataracts: Those that affect the edges of your lens and later move toward the center.
  • Posterior sub-capsular cataracts: Those that affect the back of your lens. They can progress faster than other cataracts, and can affect your night vision and your need for light while reading.

What Causes Cataracts to Develop?

While no single, definitive cause of cataracts has been determined, researchers have associated many factors with their occurrence. They include:

  • Ultra-violet radiation (UV): Primarily from being in the sun too much without protection
  • Severe nearsightedness: A condition also known as high myopia
  • Genetic links: Traits often identified in family history
  • Lifestyle factors: Obesity, smoking and high alcohol consumption
  • Co-morbid conditions: Diabetes and high blood pressure
  • HRT: Hormone replacement therapy
  • Long-term or overuse of prescribed drugs: Corticosteroid or statin medicines
  • Eye injuries: Previous eye surgery, injuries or ailments to the eyes

What are the Symptoms 

Cataracts usually form slowly. You may not know you have them until they start to block light. Then you might notice:

  • Vision that’s cloudy, blurry, foggy, or filmy
  • Nearsightedness (in older people)
  • Changes in the way you see color
  • Problems driving at night (glare from oncoming headlights, for example)
  • Problems with glare during the day
  • Double Vision in the affected eye

Trouble with eyeglasses or Contact Lenses not working well

Diagnosis and Treatment

How Are Cataracts They Diagnosed?

Your eye doctor will give you an exam to test how well you can see. He’ll also dilate your pupil to check the lens and other parts of the eye. Remember to bring your glasses or contacts to the appointment.

 Cataracts – Treatment 

Surgery to remove a cataract is the only way to get rid of a cataract. This surgery works well and helps people see well. But surgery is often not needed or can be delayed for months or years. Many people with cataracts get along very well with the help of eyeglasses contacts, and other vision aids.

Whether surgery is needed for an adult with Cataracts depends on the degree of vision loss and whether it affects the quality of life and ability to function.

The choices for treating cataracts in cataracts are to interfere with the development of normal Vision

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