The eyes are organs that enable us to see clearly. Several regions of the eye work together to bring objects into focus and transmit visual information to the brain. However, the eyes are subject to health conditions, including cataracts. Here the clear lens of the eye is clouded, which can disrupt one’s vision. A cataract can also make it challenging to drive, read, or view other things because of its cloudy nature.
Cataracts may be caused by factors like age, which alter the tissue that makes up the eye’s lens. The phenomenon results in a breakdown of fibers and protein in the lens, which lead to cloudy or hazy vision. The breakdown of proteins may begin around the age of 40, while those over 60 years of age start noticing cloudiness in their vision.
There are several factors apart from age that may lead to cataracts.
Parents, siblings, and relatives may suffer from the condition.
Certain health conditions like diabetes may also trigger cataracts. This condition is a leading cause for cataracts to occur even in younger individuals.
Cataracts can be caused by an eye injury, radiation treatments to the upper body, and surgery.
Prolonged sun exposure
People who spend plenty of time outside without appropriate sunglasses are susceptible to the condition.
Taking certain prescriptions is also known to result in the early formation of cataracts.
Cataracts do not come with painful symptoms, which may also make it difficult to diagnose them early. Symptoms such as cloudy vision affect small parts of the lens in the initial stages and may however look like minor complications. But as these cataracts grow, they make the vision more blurry. The lens of the eye, which was once clear may now have a yellowish or brownish hue. Apart from the vision turning blurry, one should look out for other symptoms.
To sum it up, cataracts can affect one’s daily lifestyle and make it difficult to perform daily tasks. The symptoms include increased sensitivity to light, light sources appearing to be halo-like when a person stares at them, difficulty seeing at night, double or ghosted vision, and colors appearing dull instead of vibrant.
Types of cataracts
These types of cataracts affect the central lens and can cause it to turn yellow, brown, and cloudy. With time, the changes in lens color can make it difficult to distinguish between different colors.
Cortical cataracts affect the edges of the lens and begin as whitish, wedge-shaped opacities on the outer edge of the lens cortex. With time, these opacities extend to the center and affect the light passing through the lens center.
Posterior subcapsular cataracts
A posterior subcapsular cataract begins as a tiny, opaque area, generally at the rear of the lens, between the path of light. It can result in reading problems, reduced vision in bright light, and halos around lights at night. Posterior subcapsular cataracts may advance faster than other types.
Congenital cataracts are diagnosed in people born with cataracts or those who develop them as kids. They may also occur due to certain conditions like galactosemia, myotonic dystrophy, neurofibromatosis type 2, or rubella. Most congenital cataracts do not always affect vision and are removed soon after they are diagnosed.
The doctor will review one’s medical history and symptoms, with an eye examination to diagnose a cataract. They are likely to conduct tests such as a visual acuity test, a retinal exam, and a slit-lamp examination. Applanation tonometry is another diagnosis method preferred by healthcare experts.
While the research for cataract prevention methods is still in progress, healthcare experts recommend multiple strategies, that may be helfpful:
One should get regular eye examinations to detect problems at the earliest.
An individual with health conditions like diabetes should stick to their treatment plan to avoid complications.
Eating fruits and vegetables introduce antioxidants to the body, which are beneficial for the eyes. There are other vitamins and minerals in fruits and veggies that are useful for the eyes and other organs of the body.
The most preferred treatment for cataracts is surgery. But a healthcare expert may advise against the option if the cataract does not bother the individual. An alternative is a new eyeglass prescription to improve the person’s vision. The ideal time to plan for surgery is when the condition starts to affect one’s overall vision and regular activities. During cataract surgery, the damaged lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL).