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Cataract Causes, Treatment, Symptoms and more

Cataract Causes, Treatment, Symptoms and more

Cataracts

Overview of Cataract
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye. The lens is located behind the iris (the colored part of your eye) and works to focus light onto the retina (the back of the eye). Similar to a camera lens, it adjusts your focus from distance to near.

The most common cause of cataract is aging. It affects about 60% of people over the age of 60. With age, the lens will oxidize and turn cloudy. Depending on the severity of the cataract, it can reduce your vision quality and make the world look fuzzy, as if you were looking through a frosty window on a cold day. Most of the common complaints are difficulty driving at night, reading, halos and glare.

Signs and Symptoms
The earliest signs of cataracts may mimic other eye conditions including macular degeneration. Many patients will notice they have more trouble seeing unless they use more intense lighting. Still others will notice they have difficulty pointing out finite details when reading or working.

Here are some additional common symptoms of cataracts in patients:

  • Aging
  • Clouded or blurry vision.
  • Difficulty seeing at night.
  • Sensitivity to bright lights.
  • Seeing halos around lights or during nights.
  • Requiring more lighting to see.
  • Frequent prescription lenses changes.
  • Fading of colors.
  • Double vision in one eye.
Cataracts very rarely pose a serious threat to one's health. There are certain conditions when a cataract can become completely white. This condition, known as a hyper mature or overripe cataract may result in inflammation and symptoms including a headache.

Risk Factors
Some people are more at risk for developing cataracts than others, though generally as we age we are all susceptible to cataracts in varying degrees of severity. Cataract risk factors include:

  • Family history of cataracts or related eye conditions.
  • Eye injury
  • Frequent inflammation of the eye or eyelid
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Excess exposure to UV radiation
  • Use of certain drugs including corticosteroids
Fortunately with routine eye exams severe forms of cataracts are exceedingly rare. In most cases your doctor will perform a host of tests to determine whether you have cataracts. These may include a visual acuity test, slit-lamp examination and a retinal examination.

Treatment for Cataracts
Cataract surgery is a simple, safe and an effective procedure for treating cataracts. Surgery is the only treatment for removing cataracts and itís success rate is 98%. The surgeon makes a small incision on the cornea, removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with an implant. The surgery is an outpatient process and the procedure itself usually takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. However, you will not be able to drive after surgery.

Some patients will experience temporary side effects including discomfort after surgery. Your doctor may recommend use of an eye patch to prevent infection. Very rarely patients will experience complications including vision loss, pain, increased redness or nausea and vomiting after surgery.

Dietary supplements and medications have no impact on cataracts, though some lifestyle adjustments may improve symptoms. Simple measures to help improve mild cataracts symptoms include:

  • Wearing a proper corrective lens.
  • Using a magnifying glass if necessary to read.
  • Using appropriate lighting including use of halogen lights in some cases with 100 or 150-watt bulbs.
  • Limiting nighttime driving.

Over time however, without surgery cataracts will grow worse. Surgery is the simplest way of restoring vision, and most people will experience few if any side effects from surgery. Together with your eye care professional you can decide whether surgery is a good choice for you based on the severity of your condition and quality of life you desire. Most patients will undergo outpatient surgery, however you will not be able to drive after surgery and may need some time to rest for a few days.

Some patients will experience temporary side effects including discomfort after surgery. Your doctor may recommend use of an eye patch to prevent infection. Very rarely patients will experience complications including vision loss, pain, increased redness or nausea and vomiting after surgery. Some people will develop an astigmatism, or condition where focusing is an issue after surgery. Fortunately this effect is easily corrected using corrective lenses.

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