Cataracts- what exactly is it?

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. For some people, it might feel if they are looking through a fogged up window.

What is the lens?

The lens is a clear part of the eye that helps to focus light, or an image, on the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The lens is positioned behind the iris and the pupil. It functions much like a camera lens. It focuses light onto the retina at the back of the eye, where an image is recorded. The lens also adjusts the eye’s focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away. The lens is mostly made of water and protein.

What causes cataracts?

There is a few factors that can lead to the formation of a cataract. The most common factor is age related. As we get older, some of the proteins may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. Over time, the cataract may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see.

Who is at risk for cataract?

The risk of cataract increases as you get older.

Other risk factors for cataract include:

  • Systemic diseases (diabetes,etc.)
  • Personal behavior (smoking, alcohol use, etc.)
  • Environment (prolonged exposure to ultraviolet sunlight).

The most common symptoms of a cataract are:

  • Cloudy or blurry vision.
  • Colours seems faded or yellowish.
  • Glare.
  • Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright.
  • A halo may appear around lights.
  • Poor night vision.
  • Double vision or multiple images in one eye.
  • ïFrequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.

If any of these symptoms are experience visit your eye care professional to determine whether there is a formation of a cataract or another eye disease presenting with similar symptoms

Treatment: Surgery

What happens before surgery?

Certain tests will be done one or two weeks before the surgery. These tests may include measuring the size, shape and curvature if the eye. This information helps your doctor choose the right type of intraocular lens (IOL).

Is cataract surgery effective?

Cataract removal is one of the most common and effective ophthalmic surgeries performed.

What happens after surgery?

Itching and mild discomfort are normal after cataract surgery. Some fluid discharge is also common. Your eye may be sensitive to light and touch. If you have discomfort, your doctor can suggest treatment. After one or two days, moderate discomfort should disappear.

For a few weeks after surgery, your doctor may ask you to use eyedrops to help healing and decrease the risk of infection. Ask your doctor about how to use your eyedrops, how often to use them, and what effects they can have. You will need to wear an eye shield or eyeglasses to help protect your eye. Avoid rubbing or pressing on your eye.

When you are home, try not to bend from the waist to pick up objects on the floor. Do not lift any heavy objects. You can walk, climb stairs, and do light household chores.

In most cases, healing will be complete within eight weeks. Your doctor will schedule exams to check on your progress.

Can problems develop after surgery?

Problems after surgery are rare, but they can occur.

When will my vision be normal again?

Normal daily activities can be resumed reasonable quickly after surgery, the vision might just be slightly blurry. If you received an IOL(intra ocular lens), you may notice that colours are very bright. The IOL is clear, unlike your natural lens that may have had a yellowish/brownish tint.

What can I do to protect my vision?

Wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight may help to delay cataract. If you smoke, stop. Good nutrition can help reduce the risk of age-related cataract.   Reduce risk by eating green leafy vegetables, fruit, and other foods with antioxidants.

If you are age 60 or older, you should have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years. Your optometrist can check for signs of age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other vision disorders. Early treatment for many eye diseases may save your sight.

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