What exactly are cataracts?
Cataracts are cloudy spots on the lens of your eye. Your lens is a clear, pliable structure composed primarily of proteins (crystallins). As you age, the proteins in your lens degrade, resulting in cloudy patches that impair your vision. Your vision deteriorates over time. Routine tasks may be complex for you to complete. Cataracts are viewed as an unavoidable part of aging by healthcare providers. Ophthalmologists can perform cataract surgery to remove cataracts and restore your vision.
What are the signs of cataract?
- Symptoms of cataracts include:
- Cloudy, blurry, foggy, or filmy vision.
- Changes in your perception of color.
- Intolerance to bright sunlight, headlights, or lamps.
- Halos or streaks that form around lights are examples of glare.
- Night vision is challenging.
- Changes in your vision prescription, such as worsening near-sightedness.
- A brighter light is required to read.
- Doubtful vision.
What are the causes of cataract?
The gradual breakdown of proteins in your lens is the primary cause of cataracts. Certain genetic and environmental factors, however, can increase your risk of developing cataracts or developing them at a younger age than others.
What are the various types of cataract?
Following are the types of Cataract:
- Cataracts affect the lens’s center (nuclear cataracts). At first, a nuclear cataract may cause increased nearsightedness or even a temporary improvement in your reading vision. However, as time passes, the lens becomes more densely yellow, further obscuring your vision. The lens may even turn brown as the cataract progresses. The lens’s advanced yellowing or browning can make it difficult to distinguish between color shades.
- Edge-impacting cataracts (cortical cataracts). Cortical cataracts begin as whitish, wedge-shaped opacities or streaks on the lens cortex’s outer edge. The streaks gradually extend to the center of the lens and interfere with light passing through it.
- Cataracts that affect the lens’s posterior surface (posterior subcapsular cataracts). A posterior subcapsular cataract begins as a small, opaque area near the back of the lens, directly in the path of light. A posterior subcapsular cataract frequently impairs reading vision, reduces vision in bright light, and causes glare or halos around lights at night. These types of cataracts progress more quickly than others.
- Cataracts are inherited at birth (congenital cataracts). Some people are born with cataracts, while others develop them as children. These cataracts could be hereditary or caused by an intrauterine infection or trauma. Cataracts can also be caused by myotonic dystrophy, galactosemia, neurofibromatosis type 2 or rubella. Congenital cataracts do not permanently impair vision, but when they do, they are usually removed as soon as they are discovered.
What risk factors are associated with cataracts?
The following factors raise the likelihood of cataracts:
- Excessive sunlight exposure
- Elevated blood pressure
- Previous injury or inflammation to the eye
- Corticosteroid medication use for an extended period
- Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol
How are cataracts identified?
Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and perform an eye examination to determine whether you have a cataract. Your doctor may order the following tests:
- Visual acuity examination. A visual acuity test employs an eye chart to assess your ability to read a series of letters. One of your eyes is tested at a time while the other is covered. Your eye doctor determines whether you have 20/20 vision using a chart or a viewing device with progressively smaller letters.
- Slit-lamp test. A slit lamp allows your eye doctor to magnify the structures at the front of your eye. The microscope is a slit lamp because it illuminates your cornea, iris, lens, and the space between your iris and cornea with an intense line of light called a slit. The slit allows your doctor to examine these structures in small sections, making it easier to detect any minor abnormalities.
- Examine the retina. Your eye doctor will place drops in your eyes to widen your pupils in preparation for a retinal exam (dilate). This makes inspecting the back of your eyes easier (retina). Your eye doctor can examine your lens for signs of a cataract using a slit lamp or a particular device called an ophthalmoscope.
What is the most effective way to treat cataracts?
Cataract surgery is the only way to remove cataracts and restore your vision. An ophthalmologist removes your clouded natural lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens during cataract surgery (IOL). An IOL is a permanent artificial lens that is implanted in your eye. Numerous IOL options are available, which your provider can discuss with you. The main advantage of an IOL is that it is clear, just like your natural lens. Another advantage is that it can correct refractive errors, allowing you to use glasses or contact lenses after surgery.
How can you prevent cataracts?
- Maintain regular eye exams. Eye examinations can aid in detecting cataracts and other eye problems early. Inquire with your doctor about how frequently you should have your eyes examined.
- Stop smoking. Consult your doctor for advice on quitting smoking. You can get help from medications, counseling, and other methods.
- Manage any other health issues. If you have diabetes or another medical condition that increases your risk of cataracts, stick to your treatment plan.
- Choose a healthy diet that is high in fruits and vegetables. Including various colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet ensures you get plenty of vitamins and nutrients. Fruits and vegetables contain many antioxidants, which help keep your eyes healthy.
- Utilize sunglasses. The sun’s ultraviolet light may contribute to the development of cataracts. Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays when you’re outside.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption can raise the risk of cataracts.