What is Cataract?

Cataracts is an eye condition in which the eye’s natural lens becomes clouded, leading to blurry vision. This condition mainly occurs in older adults. When this condition occurs, vision becomes like looking through a fogged-up window. The condition affects one’s ability to read, drive a car or read facial expressions.

The natural lens works to refract light that enters the eye. For normal vision, the lens should be completely clear. However, as one ages, cataracts begin developing. They develop slowly, over a long period of time. At first, they are not noticeable. However, as they continue to develop, they start affecting one’s vision.

So, what exactly causes cataracts? Cataracts occur as a result of protein build-up in the natural lens in the eye. This build-up prevents the clear passage of light into the eye.

Symptoms of Cataract

People suffering from cataracts experience various symptoms. These include:

• Cloudy, filmy, foggy or blurry vision.

• Sensitivity to glare.

• Yellowing of colors.

• Seeing “halos” when looking at light sources.

• Difficulty in seeing at night.

• Difficulty driving at night.

• Double vision in one eye.

Types of Cataracts

1. Secondary cataracts: There is a risk of developing cataracts following eye surgery to treat another eye problem such as glaucoma. Cataracts may also occur in people with certain health conditions like diabetes. Steroid use has also been linked to cataracts.

2. Congenital cataracts: This is a scenario in which babies are born with cataracts or develop them earlier in life in childhood. These cataracts do not affect vision as they are very small. If vision is affected, then there is need to remove the lenses. Congenital cataracts are caused by injury, infection or poor development of the child in the womb.

3. Traumatic cataracts: These develop as a result of an eye injury.

4. Age-related cataracts: These affect older people and generally form as one grows older.

5. Radiation cataracts: These develop following exposure to radiation.

Prevention of Cataract

There has been raging debate on whether cataracts can be prevented. Several studies point to the possibility of preventing cataract through nutritional supplements and certain nutrients. In one particular 10-year study, it was proven that intake of larger amounts of lutein, zeaxanthin and Vitamin E significantly reduced the risk of contracting cataract.

Foods rich in vitamin E include spinach, almonds and sunflower seeds. Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin include green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach. Research has also shown that antioxidant vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of contracting cataracts.

Treatment of Cataract

Once one starts experiencing the symptoms of cataract, it is possible to counter the effects with a new pair of glasses, appropriate lighting, magnification and strong bifocals. If the cataracts have progressed to the point of vision impairment, it is time to consider surgery. Cataract surgery is a simple and painless procedure with immense benefits.

Cataract surgery is a very effective procedure, with 9 in every ten people that undergo the procedure regaining good vision. The surgery involves removal of the clouded lens and replacing it with another clear plastic lens.

Cataract is a treatable condition. One can also take the measures mentioned above to reduce the risk of developing the same. To ensure that the condition does not develop to the point of causing vision problems, it is recommended to have regular eye Eye Exams by an Optometrist for early diagnosis.