Cataract

Reviewed By:   Anil Ghimire, MD

Cataract occurs when the lens of an eye becomes cloudy and affects vision. Almost half of the blindness worldwide is estimated to be caused by cataract. It is the major cause of blindness in developing countries.

It is a gradual change in the structure of the lens in an eye. Hence, it usually manifests in older age which is called age related cataract. There are other types of cataract as well like those present at birth; those caused by injury to eye or complications of other eye conditions etc. These are however not as common as age related cataracts.

 

Risk Factors of Age Related Cataract

Most of the times there is not any clear cause of cataract but there are various factors that increase the risk of developing cataract:

  • Older age
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Excessive sunlight and radiation exposure
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Prolonged use of steroid medicines
  • Family history of cataract
  • Previous eye injury or inflammation

 

Symptoms of Cataract

  • Progressive decline in vision without pain
  • Have spots in your vision
  • Seeing halos around bright lights – for example, street lights.
  • Not being able to see in bright light or sunshine.
  • Problems with night driving, reading road signs, or difficulty reading fine letters
  • Often an increase in farsightedness
  • Problems in color vision

 

Diagnosis

The doctor identifies cataract by examination of your eyes. Sometimes it is diagnosed during a routine eye check up even before having any symptoms.

  • The doctor will conduct a detailed eye exam to check for the common causes of vision problems. It includes your ability to see near and distant objects, your ability to see things at center of focus and the ones at sides, the pressure inside your eyeball and any signs of nerve damage.
  • A dilated fundus examination may be performed to rule out other pathology that could account for diminished vision.

 

Treatment

Surgery as well as eye drops will be given by the doctor according to the condition of the cataract.  During surgery the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. Surgery is indicated if the vision loss from the cataract is interfering  with your work or daily activities.

 

Prevention

There is no proven therapy to prevent cataract. Some interventions may be  helpful:

  • Avoid or quit smoking
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet with a lot of fruits, vegetables, milk, fats and sodium.
  • Postmenopausal estrogen use

 

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