What is a Cataract?
A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye (the clear part of the eye that helps to focus light). Cataracts are very common as you get older. At first, you may not notice that you have a cataract. But over time, cataracts can make your vision blurry, hazy, or less colorful. You may have trouble reading or doing other everyday activities. Over time, cataracts can lead to vision loss. The good news is that surgery can get rid of cataracts. Cataract surgery is safe and corrects vision problems caused by cataracts. Usually, we get cataracts at the age of our parents.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
You might not have any symptoms at first when cataracts are mild. But as they grow, cataracts can cause changes in your vision.
For example, you may notice that:
● Your vision is cloudy or blurry
● Colours look faded
● You can’t see well at night
● Lamps, sunlight, or headlights seem too bright
● You see a halo around the lights
● You see double (this sometimes goes away as the cataract gets bigger)
● You have to change the prescription for your glasses or contact lenses often
● Talk with your eye doctor if you have any of these symptoms — they could also be signs of other eye problems.
Also Read: What are Refractive errors?
What are the types of cataracts?
Most cataracts are related to age — they happen because of normal changes in your eyes as you get older. But you can get cataracts for other reasons — like after an eye injury or after surgery for another eye problem (like glaucoma). No matter what type of cataract you have, you’ll need surgery to treat it.
Types of cataracts based on cause-
1) Congenital Cataract
2) Traumatic Cataract
3) Atopic Cataract- Develop under 40 years, the mechanism is usually COSINOPHIL Driven.
4) Diabetic Cataracts- There is a rapid development of cataracts seen in diabetics due to osmotic stress and fluid accumulation.
Types of cataracts based on anatomical level
1) Anterior Subcapsular cataract
2) Cortical Cataract
3) Posterior Subcapsular cataract
4) Nuclear Cataract
5) Steroid-induced cataract- Recently after COVID-19, we have seen young people with posterior cataracts due to the use of steroids in
COVID attacks. Some of them with attacks of the virus also presented with posterior subcapsular cataracts.
Did you know?
-You can get cataracts in one eye or both eyes — but they can’t spread from one eye to the other.
-By age 80, most people either have cataracts or have had cataract surgery.
Am I at risk for cataracts?
Your risk for cataracts goes up as you get older. You’re also at higher risk if you:
● Have certain health problems, like diabetes
● Drink too much alcohol
● Have an Early family history of cataracts
● Have had an eye injury, eye surgery, or radiation treatment on your upper body
● Have spent a lot of time in the sun
● Take steroids — medicines used to treat some health problems, like arthritis or allergies
If you’re worried you might be at risk for cataracts, talk with your doctor. Ask if there’s anything you can do to lower your risk.
What causes cataracts?
Most cataracts happen because of normal changes in your eyes as you get older. When you’re young, the lens in your eye is clear. Around age 40, the proteins in the lens of your eye start to break fade up and clump together. This clump makes a cloudy area on your lens — known as a cataract. Over time, the cataract gets worse and makes more of your lens cloudy.
How can I prevent cataracts?
You can take steps to protect your eyes from cataracts:
● Protect your eyes from the sun. Wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block the sun.
● Protect your eyes from injury. While doing activities like using power tools or playing certain sports, wear protective
eyewear to protect your eyes from getting accidentally injured.
● Make eye-healthy food choices. Eat plenty of healthy foods — like vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, leafy greens,
nuts, and whole grains. reduction of junk foods made up of all-purpose flour and carbohydrates.
How to Check for Cataracts?
An eye doctor can check for cataracts as part of a dilated eye exam. If you’re age 60 or older, get a dilated eye exam every 1 to 2 years. The exam is simple and painless — your doctor will give you some eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupil and then check your eyes for cataracts and other eye problems.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) –
The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgical intervention. Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy natural lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). This procedure is highly successful and has a low risk of complications.
Cataracts develop when the proteins in the eye’s lens break down and clump together, causing cloudiness. Aging is the primary factor, but other contributors include prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation, certain medications, smoking, diabetes, and genetic predisposition.
If left untreated, cataracts can progressively worsen, leading to significant vision impairment and, in severe cases, blindness. Activities such as reading, driving, and recognizing faces may become increasingly challenging. Timely surgical intervention is crucial to prevent further deterioration of vision.
Cataracts are broadly categorized into three types: nuclear cataracts (affecting the center of the lens), cortical cataracts (affecting the lens periphery), and posterior subcapsular cataracts (forming at the back of the lens). Each type presents with distinct symptoms and may progress at different rates.
An intraocular lens (IOL) is a synthetic lens implanted during cataract surgery to replace the eye’s natural lens. IOLs come in various types, including monofocal (correcting vision at one distance), multifocal (correcting vision at multiple distances), and toric (correcting astigmatism). The choice of IOL depends on the patient’s visual needs and lifestyle.