Eye Disorder (Cataracts)

A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, which is normally transparent. Cataract symptoms include a clouding of vision, and when this happens, activities like reading, driving at night become difficult.

Most cataracts develop slowly and do not affect vision early on. However, in the later stages they can significantly interfere with your vision.

If impaired vision affects the normal lifestyle of a person, surgery for cataract removal may be required. This is generally a safe and effective procedure.

Types of Cataracts

Nuclear cataract — occurs in the centre of the lens
Cortical cataract — begins as whitish, wedge-shaped opacities or streaks on the outer edge of the lens
Subcapsular cataract —starts as a small, opaque area just under the capsule of the lens near the back of the lens

Risk Factors for Cataracts

Risk factors for developing cataracts include:
Family history of cataracts
Previous eye injury or inflammation, or previous eye surgery
Prolonged use of corticosteroids
Excessive exposure to sunlight or ionising radiation

Cataract Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of cataracts include:
Clouded, blurred, or dim vision
Difficulty with night vision
Sensitivity to light and glare
Halos around lights
The need for brighter lights for reading and other activities
Frequent change of glasses or contact lenses
Double vision in a single eye

Cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness. Learn more about blindness here.

Cataract Diagnosis and Tests 

A clinical eye examination is necessary to make a diagnosis of cataracts. This includes several tests:
Visual acuity test — refers to the sharpness of vision or how clearly one can see an object. It is done with the help of a chart with progressively smaller letters from top to bottom 
Slit-lamp examination — allows the doctor to see the structures at the front of your eye under magnification
Retinal examination — done with a slit lamp or a special device called an ophthalmoscope

To learn more about the importance of eye exams, and how often you should go, click here.

Cataract Treatments and Drugs

Cataracts cannot be cured with medications, dietary supplements, exercise or optical devices.

The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery, which involves removal of the clouded lens and replacing it with a clear lens implant. Occasionally, cataracts are removed without reinserting implant lenses. The vision defect is then corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

Cataract Prevention
Regular eye exams remain the key to early detection. If you are 65 years or above, make sure you go for regular eye check-ups.

You can take the following steps to help slow down the development of cataracts:
Avoid or quit smoking as smoking produces free radicals, molecules that increase your risk of cataracts.
Ultraviolet light may contribute to the development of cataracts. If you are outdoors, wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
If you have diabetes or other medical conditions, you may take other preventive steps, such as keeping your diabetes under control and wearing UVB-blocking sunglasses when outdoors.

Eye Disorder (Cataracts)

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