You are born with perfect eyes, you have great eyesight and you cannot only read and see clearly but can also see very far. This perfect scenario can be changed by various factors that affect how clearly you can see. Instead of seeing normally, you fail to see far or read properly, in most cases seeing things clouded. This is an indication of cataract, a change in your lenses located inside your eyes just behind your iris. It is the duty of your lenses to focus light on your retina, which is located at the back of your eyes. On receipt of light focus from the lenses, the retina transforms the light it receives into signals that it sends to your brain through nerves, signals that your brain transforms into images, allowing you to see anything that you look at and which your lenses focus on.
It therefore means that anything that interferes with how your lenses focus leads to distorted vision, which cataract does; it clouds the light reaching the lenses, in effect making resultant vision unclear. Cataract develops gradually and you may not notice that your vision is being distorted. Cataracts affect both eyes and are common in people above the age of 60. If affected and without any remedial measure, you can easily become blind at it develops.
Symptoms of Cataract
Cataract presents various symptoms that include:
- Cloudy/blurred vision – You fail to see things clearly.
- Loss of contrast – You fail to notice any difference in colors or shadows.
- Double vision – You may see things appearing in double.
- Night sightedness
Causes of Cataract
Note that there are different types of cataract, depending on their location on the lenses, cause and severity. Such include nuclear, cortical, mature and hyper mature cataracts. Cataract causes are varied and include:
- Genes – You can inherit genes with chromosome disorders that lead to the development of cataract later in life.
- Disease – Diseases that affect your skin and mucous membrane (atopic dermatitis), your metabolism (diabetes, hyper/hypothyroidism, Wilson’s disease and Fabry’s disease amongst others), infections (congenital syphilis and congenital herpes simplex) and such diseases as leprosy and cysticercosis amongst others.
- Medications – Long use of certain medications such as corticosteroids and miotics amongst others cause cataract.
- Age – Your lenses are made of proteins that maintain clarity of light received. As you age however, these proteins are degraded, in effect causing cloudiness in the lenses.
- Trauma – Serious injury to the eyes such as of physical nature or over-exposure to sun radiation or chemicals cause cataract.
Going to your doctor (ophthalmologist) with a problem of blurred vision will certainly prompt him/her to conduct several tests to determine if you have cataract or not. Such include eye chart test, glare test, contrast sensitivity test and tonometry test. The ophthalmologist is likely to perform pupil dilation (enlarging your pupil using special eye drops to have a better view of your lenses and retina).
Treatment of Cataract
For cataract that is just starting to form, your ophthalmologist is likely to prescribe appropriate glasses to enhance your sight. For mature cataract however, surgery is usually performed. In this case, your ophthalmologist can perform three types of surgery:
- Phacoemulsification Surgery – This is the most common cataract surgery used by ophthalmologists in treating cataract. It involves removing then cataract and inserting a very thin intraocular lens to enable you focus properly.
- Extracapsular Surgery – this type of surgery is performed on very mature cataract. It involves removing the cataract in whole without leaving a trace of it. After removal, an artificial lens is inserted into the capsular bag to aid your sight.
- Intracapsular Surgery – This types of cataract surgery involves the removal of the entire lens and capsule, with an intraocular lens placed not in the same place but in front of your iris.
Nothing can be further from the truth; it is vital to prevent the occurrence of cataract at all costs. Wearing ultraviolet-protective sunglasses goes a long way in protecting your eyes against adverse sunrays and radiation, regular intake of antioxidant vitamins and treating any skin or other diseases such as diabetes that can cause cataract.