A cataract occurs when your eye’s lens becomes cloudy and impairs vision. Aging is the most common cause of cataracts and is relatively common among the elderly. Cataracts may form in either one or both eyes, but they cannot spread from one eye to another.
Our eyes have natural lenses. The lens is a transparent part of the eye that plays an essential role in the eye’s ability to focus light and pictures on the retina. The retina is the rear of the eye’s light-sensitive tissue.
Light goes through the lens to the retina in a normal eye. The light is converted into nerve impulses and goes to the brain once it reaches the retina.
What are the causes of cataracts?
The lens is located behind the iris and pupil, which functions similarly to a camera lens. It directs light to the retina, which records images at the back of the eye. The lens also changes the eye’s focus, allowing us to see properly. The lens is primarily composed of water and protein.
The protein keeps the lenses clean and lets light travel through them. Part of the protein may weaken, making objects seem foggy or blurry as we age. The cataract may get bigger and more cloudy over time, making it difficult to see.
The most common cause is aging, which results from typical eye changes that start to occur at the age of 40. Natural lens proteins begin to weaken at that point.
There are more causes, such as:
- Family history
- Diabetes and other health problems
- Previous eye injury or eye surgery
- Too much sun exposure
Most cataracts caused by aging progress slowly. Some cataracts, such as those in younger individuals or patients with diabetes, may progress more rapidly.
Age-related cataracts may damage eyesight in two ways:
1. The lens includes water and protein primarily. Vision impairment may develop if the clouding becomes severe. Most age-related cataracts occur from damaged protein.
You may not notice any changes in your eyesight when the cataract is still tiny. With time, the cataract may develop in size; thus, vision becomes impaired gradually. Your vision will become blurry over time.
2. The clear lens turns to a yellowish/brownish tone. When the clear lens progressively browns with age, your eyesight gradually may acquire a brownish hue. Initially, the tinting may be minor and not create a visual impairment. With time, the cataract typically grows in size. This progressive variation in tinting does not impair the clarity of the image delivered to the retina.
Who is at risk?
The risk of cataracts rises as you become older. Additional risk factors include certain disorders such as diabetes.
What are the early signs?
- Cloudy or fuzzy vision.
- The colors appear faded.
- Weak night vision.
- Double vision or numerous pictures in one eye.
Types of Cataracts
Cataracts may form years later after an eye injury.
Cataracts may occur following surgery for other eye diseases, such as glaucoma. It may also develop in persons with other health conditions, including diabetes.
Cataracts may form following exposure to various kinds of radiation.
There are babies who are born with cataracts or get them when they are very young, often in both eyes.
How to diagnose cataracts?
A comprehensive eye exam is required to detect cataracts.
Dilated eye test
Your eye doctor will use eye drops to widen or dilate the pupils. Optometrist uses a unique specific lens to check your retina and optic nerve for indications of damage and other eye problems. Following the test, your close-up eyesight may remain obscured for many hours.
A device monitors the pressure inside the eye. As part of this test, you may be given drops to numb your eyes. Your eye doctor provider also may undertake additional tests to learn more about the anatomy and health of your eye.
How is it treated?
New eyeglasses, improved lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, and magnifying lenses may help with the visual difficulties of early-stage cataracts. If none of these treatments work, surgery is the next option. Only ophthalmologists can perform surgery.
Cataract surgery is necessary only when the patient’s eyesight impairment prevents them from doing routine tasks like driving, reading, or watching television. After you understand the benefits and risks of surgery, you can decide whether cataract surgery is the best option.
If you want to have a surgery, your optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist who will remove the cataract. If cataracts in both eyes need surgery, the procedure will be done on each eye at consecutive times, usually four weeks apart.
Things to do to protect your eyes:
- Have an annual eye exam.
- Protect your eyes from sunlight by wearing sunglasses and a hat.
- Quit smoking.
- Do not read in the dark. Use lights for reading and doing other activities.
- Get suitable eyeglasses or contact lenses.
- If you have existing eye problems, limit driving at night.
- Monitor health conditions such as diabetes.
When you have difficulty doing daily activities, contact your eye doctor and schedule an eye exam.
Is cataract surgery effective?
One of the most common surgical procedures in America is the removal of cataracts. Moreover, it is among the most successful and least invasive surgical procedures available today. In roughly 90 percent of cases, people undergoing cataract surgery have improved eyesight.
What are the dangers of surgery?
Cataract surgery has risks like infection and bleeding. Your eye doctor may recommend temporarily stopping medication before cataract surgery. Keeping your eyes clean and washing your hands before touching your eyes will limit the chance of infection. Severe infection may result in loss of eyesight.
Other eye diseases, such as myopia (nearsightedness), might significantly increase your risk of retinal detachment following cataract surgery.
A retinal detachment produces no discomfort. Early treatment for retinal detachment typically prevents loss of vision. The longer the retina is detached, the less likely you will recover good vision after treatment.
Before the surgery
Your eye doctor will run some tests a week or two before surgery. These examinations may involve measuring the cornea’s curvature and the size and shape of your eye.
During the surgery
Cataract removal takes less than an hour and causes little discomfort to the patient. Nowadays, many patients choose to be awake throughout their procedures. For others, a brief nap in a coma is necessary. If you are awake, you will get anesthesia to numb your eye.
After the surgery
Itching and minor pain are usual following cataract surgery. Your eye may be sensitive to light. If you suffer discomfort, your eye doctor may offer therapy. After one or two days, the pain should lessen.
During a few weeks following surgery, your eye doctor may advise you to take eyedrops for healing and lower the chance of infection. You must use an eye shield or eyeglasses to help protect your eye. Avoid touching or rubbing your eye.
While recovering at home, try not to bend to pick up stuff on the floor from the waist. Do not lift any heavy stuff. In most situations, recovery will be complete within eight weeks. Your eye doctor will arrange checkups to check on your progress.
Schedule your comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Jeffrey Porter or Dr. Will Watson. Our optometrists provide quality eye care in Crystal Lake, Woodstock, Harvard, Illinois and surrounding communities.
Walmart Vision Center Crystal Lake, IL
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