Our eyes are by far the most important part of our body, as we perceive up to 80 per cent of all impressions by means of our sight. Yet, we must give them the attention they deserve before it's too late. June is Cataract Awareness Month, A common eye condition mainly among people aged 65 and above in which the lens inside the eyes loses its transparency. A survey by a leading British Optician revealed that around 2.5 million people aged 65 or older have some degree of visual impairment caused by cataracts in England and Wales.
Hence, through this blog, we will educate our readers about cataract, their types, their causes, symptoms, treatments and prevention so that they can be aware of them and take the necessary steps for themselves and their loved ones.
What is a Cataract:
A cataract is a dense, cloudy area in the eye's lens. A cataract begins when proteins in the eye form clumps that prevent the lens from sending clear images to the retina. The retina converts the light that comes through the lens into signals. It sends the signs to the optic nerve.
Cataracts are common in older people. It develops slowly and eventually interferes with your vision. You might have cataracts in both eyes, but they usually don't form simultaneously.
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 are young, our lenses are usually like clear glass, allowing us to see through them. As we age, they become frosted, like obscure glass, and limit our vision.
Cataracts usually appear in both eyes. They may not necessarily develop simultaneously 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 the 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 as faded
- increased sensitivity to glare
- halos surrounding lights
- double vision in the affected eye
- a need for frequent changes in prescription glasses
Causes of Cataracts:
There are several underlying causes of cataracts. These include:
overproduction of oxidants, which are oxygen molecules that have been chemically altered due to everyday daily life
- ultraviolet radiation
- the long-term use of steroids and other medications
- certain diseases, such as diabetes
- radiation therapy
Treatments for Cataracts:
Your doctor may help you manage your symptoms, such as suggesting stronger eyeglasses, magnifying lenses, or sunglasses with an anti-glare coating if you don't want to go for surgery.
Surgery is recommended when cataracts prevent you from going about your daily activities, such as driving, reading, or general household chores. It’s also done when cataracts interfere with treating other eye problems.
Phacoemulsification is a modern-day cataract surgery using ultrasound waves to break the lens apart and remove the pieces.
Extracapsular surgery involves removing the cloudy part of the lens through a long incision in the cornea. After surgery, an artificial intraocular lens is placed where the natural lens was.
Surgery to remove a cataract is generally very safe and has a high success rate. Some of the risks of cataract surgery include infection, bleeding, and retinal detachment, though incidences of all those complications are less than 1%. Most people can go home on the same day after the surgery has taken place.
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 can affect anyone. 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 clarity depends on the overall health of your eyes.
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