A cataract is a painless clouding of the lens inside the eye which leads to a reduction in vision. It is one of the most common causes of total vision loss and is now treated with surgery. Because of the density of the cloud, it blocks light from passing through the lens, making it difficult to see. Cataracts undergo consistent growth, worsening the condition and causing blindness over time. Those with cataracts experience difficulty in distinguishing colors, reading, recognizing faces, and driving.

Risks and Symptoms of Cataracts

Factors that increase your risk of cataracts include:

  • Old age
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Undue exposure to sunlight
  • Exposure to radiation, such as machines used in X-rays and cancer radiation therapy
  • Family history of cataracts
  • Cardiovascular diseases or high blood pressure
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Inflammation or prior eye injuries
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Extended use of steroid medications
  • Smoking
  • Skin diseases

Common symptoms of inducing a cataract development are:

  • Blurred vision
  • Colors seem dull
  • Glare – car headlights, lamps or sunlight may seem too bright. You may also see a circle of light around bright lights.
  • Decreased night vision
  • Duplicate vision
  • Frequent prescription adjustments in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.

How are Cataracts Diagnosed?

The intensity of the cataract can be measured by the visual acuity test, provided there is no other eye disease. Cataracts are comparatively easy to diagnose by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist during a regular eye examination. It is vital, when making the diagnosis of cataract, to also scan the entire eye for confirmation of any other eye infection which may be the cause of vision loss. In addition to ocular history and visual acuity test, the ophthalmologist should check eye movements and pupil responses, measure the pressure of blood and fluid inside the eyes and examine the front and back of the eyes after the pupils have been enlarged with drops.

Treatment Options

People in the initial stages of developing a cataract will find that altering their glasses, using sunglasses to reduce glare and having improved lighting to read can extensively alleviate their symptoms. Magnifying lenses for close work and reading fine details could also be helpful.

Most cataracts are not troublesome, causing hardly any symptoms. In that condition, a surgery is not necessary. However, the only accurate cure for cataract is surgical elimination of the cloudy lens. Surgery is recommended if the patient loses the capability to perform daily tasks such as driving, reading, or looking at computer or video screens, even with glasses, and there is the hope that vision will recover as a consequence of the surgery.

Cataract surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis, meaning you won’t need to stay in a hospital after a successful surgery. During the surgery, the eye surgeon uses anesthesia to numb the region around your eye, but you usually stay awake during the process. Cataract surgery is normally harmless, but it accompanies the risk of infection and bleeding. Cataract surgery raises the risk of retinal detachment.

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