By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 07 December 2022 & Updated on - 08 December 2022
In essence, a cataract is an ailment of the eye that causes the lenses to fog, causing significant vision loss. The condition typically develops over time and needs to be surgically removed to restore vision. A cataract occurs most commonly in older people who might not realize it until the fogging starts hindering vision.
Let's break down how the eye works to understand the condition better. Light passes through the lens, which is situated behind the iris. The light that passes through the lens reaches the retina, which converts the light into signals and passes it to the brain.
If a person develops a cataract, the protein formation on the lens turns it opaque and does not allow a clear image to reach the retina. As a result, incomplete signals are sent to the brain, hindering vision. The eye loses its ability to focus on the light, causing vision loss. The amount of vision loss depends on the size and location of the cataract.
Since cataracts develop over a long period, an individual might have one at the age of 40 but might not realize it until they reach 60. So, an early diagnosis is generally not possible. Eyeglasses and exposure to intense light might help diminish the damage if it is detected early on.
But if the cataract begins to interfere with a person's day-to-day activities, surgery is required to get rid of it. The surgery is relatively effective, safe and does not damage vision further.
Having regular eye checkups is the only way to get ahead of a cataract. Only an ophthalmologist can help detect the presence of cataracts. As an individual gets older, eye examinations become even more critical. Some symptoms of a cataract are as follows:
Further, a patient needs to be more vigilant if he/she identifies one or more of the risk factors mentioned below:
An ophthalmologist will perform some basic diagnostic tests to look for signs of cataracts. This will start with a basic physical examination of the eye.
The doctor will dilate the pupil by administering special eye drops, causing the pupil to widen. Once the pupil opens up, the doctor will try to gauge the eye's overall health by performing preliminary tests. Once the doctor detects the presence of a cataract, he/she will prescribe several lab tests to confirm the suspicion, such as:
Surgical Treatment: Surgery is the only way to get rid of a cataract. The surgery involves removing the clouded lens and putting an artificial one in its place. This lens is known as an intraocular lens and will stay in the eye permanently.
In rare cases, people might have other eye conditions that might not accommodate using the intraocular lens. In this case, the cataract is removed, and vision is corrected with the help of contact lenses or eyeglasses. Cataract surgeries are generally of two types:
In this case, the doctor will make a larger opening in the eye and remove it in one piece. The intraocular lens is then put in its place.
The surgical method to remove a cataract is relatively safe. However, there is a possibility that the patient might experience some irritation in the form of the following symptoms:
The most significant complication of untreated cataracts is permanent blindness. This is because the proteins responsible for causing the cataract will start clumping together, damaging the patient's eye permanently.
Here are some of the consequences of a cataract being left untreated:
The various types of cataracts commonly found include:
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Is there a way to see better without getting the cataract surgery done?
In the early stages of cataracts, getting surgery might not be possible. Even though the effects of the cataract might be mild, the patient will still have some difficulty with clear sight. Here are a few things a patient can do to help them see better: Use a magnifying glass while reading Reduce glare by using polarized glasses Increase the light in their surroundings by using brighter bulbs
What is the leading cause of cataracts?
The leading cause of cataracts is ageing. Generally, younger people have clearer lenses. However, as people get to the age of 40, there is a possibility that the proteins in the eyes might break down and start clumping together. This clump will make way for a clouded lens, referred to as a cataract.
At what stage must a cataract ideally be removed?
A cataract operation can ideally be performed at any stage. A patient does not need to wait for the cataract to 'ripen' before getting rid of it. Usually, once people start experiencing vision changes, they get the surgery done.
How long does it generally take to recover from cataract surgery?
It might take roughly 4-6 weeks for the patient's eyes to fully recover from cataract surgery. The condition of the eye might start improving after a couple of days; they might experience some irritating postoperative symptoms, such as: Watery eyes Blurry vision Sensitivity to light Discomfort Itching