What is a Cataract:
A dense, cloudy area in the eye's lens is called a cataract. The retina converts light from the lens into signals. The optic nerve transmits them to the brain. When proteins clump together, the lens cannot send clear images to the retina.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye. It develops slowly, and eventually, it can interfere with your vision. You might have cataracts in both eyes, but they usually don’t form simultaneously. Cataracts are common in older people. According to the National Eye Institute, over half of the people in the United States have cataracts or have undergone cataract surgery by the time they’re 80 years old.
Types of Cataracts:
Most cataracts are related to regular eye changes as you age. It is possible to get cataracts for other reasons, like after an eye injury or surgery for another eye problem.
However, there are mainly five types of cataracts.
1. Age-related cataracts
When we're young, our lenses are usually like clear glass, allowing us to see through them. As we age, they become frosted, like bathroom glass, and begin to limit our vision.
Cataracts usually appear in both eyes. They may not necessarily develop at the same time or be the same in each eye. They're more common in older adults and can affect your ability to carry out daily activities such as driving.
2. Traumatic Cataracts
An injury to one or both eyes may cause you to develop a traumatic cataract. It may happen right after the accident, or it may occur several years later.
3. Radiation Cataracts
Radiation cataracts result from eye lens injury, the most frequent late effect of irradiation of the whole body (or partial to upper body).
4. Congenital Cataracts
Children can get cataracts, too. They can be born with cataracts (congenital cataracts) or develop them later in life.
Cataracts in children are rare and usually genetic—they run in families. They can also happen because of severe pregnancy complications or illnesses during childhood, like uveitis or tumours in the eye. Children can also get cataracts for the same reasons as adults: eye injuries, radiation, or steroid medications.
5. Secondary Cataracts:
After cataract surgery, some people may develop a secondary cataract that makes their vision cloudy again. This condition is also called after-cataract or posterior capsule opacification. A secondary cataract is common, but it’s easy to fix with a laser treatment in your eye doctor’s office.
Symptoms of Cataracts:
Common symptoms of cataracts include:
- blurry vision
- trouble seeing at night.
- Seeing colours fade
- increased sensitivity to glare
- halos surround lights
- double vision in the affected eye.
- A need for frequent changes in prescription glasses
Who is at the risk of Cataracts:
As you get older, your risk for cataracts goes up. You are also at higher risk if you have
- Have specific health problems, like diabetes
- Drink too much alcohol
- Have a 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 a variety of health problems, like arthritis and rashes)
Treatment of Cataracts:
In its early stages, loss of eyesight caused by a cataract may be helped by using different eyeglasses, a magnifying glass, or more vital lighting. Surgery is the only effective treatment when these measures are no longer helpful. The only time a cataract needs to be removed is when losing your vision makes it difficult to perform daily tasks like reading, driving, or watching TV. You can decide that in consultation with your eye doctor.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries. It involves swapping out the cloudy lens with a new lens. If you have cataracts in both eyes, they are not taken out simultaneously. Your eye healthcare provider will need to do the surgery on each eye separately.
Prevention of Cataracts:
Developing cataracts is a regular part of ageing. You can take a few steps to protect your eye health and slow the process:
- Quit smoking
- Wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim to keep the sun out of your eyes.
- Get regular eye care. Have your eyes dilated once every two years after age 60. If you get treated sooner, surgery may be more straightforward.
Cataracts are a common eye condition that affects anyone, especially people with diabetes. The good news is that cataract surgery can restore clear vision. However, the outcome can vary from person to person.
Many people experience improved visual clarity after surgery, but the amount of transparency depends on the overall health of your eyes and whether you have other diabetes-related eye diseases.