What are the symptoms of cataracts?
A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of the eye that interferes with vision.Cataracts may be caused by a number of factors, including age, injury, and certain diseases. Vision loss from cataracts is generally slow and painless, but it is progressive and may require treatment. The following symptoms may indicate the presence of cataracts:
· Cloudy or foggy vision
· Blurry or distorted vision
· Changes in color vision
· Frequent increases in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions
· Poor night vision (especially affected by headlights)
· Progressive loss of vision
· Halos or glare around lights
· Double vision
· A white or “milky” spot over the pupil of the eye
Worsening vision, trouble with night vision, and problems with halos or glare are the most common and distinctive symptoms of cataracts.
What should a person with symptoms do?
Because cataracts can interfere with vision-eventually quite significantly-people who exhibit symptoms should schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist. A qualified doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and review treatment options with the patient. Though not all patients require it,cataract surgery can prove to be a relatively safe and effective option for many people with cataracts.
What Causes Cataracts?
What Causes Cataracts?
A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of the eye that interferes with normal vision. Although scientists do not know what biological mechanisms are responsible for the formation of cataracts, they have identified several risk factors for the condition.
Ultraviolet Radiation (UVA or UVB) – long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation can result in pigment changes that lead to the formation of cataracts. UVB is especially dangerous to the eyes.
Free Radicals – high levels of free radicals within the body cause a chemical reaction that results in cell damage. This can lead to the formation of cataracts.
Medications – there are several drugs that can lead to cataract formation. The most well known are oral steroids. In addition, long-term aspirin use has been associated with cataracts. Other medications that have been linked to cataracts include: tamoxifen (treats breast cancer), allopurinol (treats gout), and amiodarone (treats irregularities in heartbeat).
Smoking – smoking has been linked to the formation of nuclear cataracts. There is some evidence to suggest that chemical byproducts of inhaled smoke are responsible for cataract formation.
Alcohol – scientists have been unable to determine if alcohol use is directly linked to the protein on the eye, or if it is linked indirectly by blocking the absorption of essential nutrients.
Medical Disorders – there are several medical disorders that have been associated with the formation of cataracts. These include diabetes, glaucoma, and metabolic conditions.
Physical Injury – physical injuries, such as a blow to the eye, a cut, a puncture, intense heat or cold, chemical burns, or radiation therapy, can lead to cataract formation.
What does cataract treatment involve?
Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Cataracts result in decreased vision and can become progressively worse over time. Treatment for cataracts is usually optional. It is done primarily to improve vision and quality of life. In most cases, the decision to have surgery is the patient’s. More rarely, cataracts may impair the doctor’s ability to see or treat other eye problems. If this is the case, the physician may require surgery. Possible treatment options for cataracts include surgery and stronger glasses or bifocals. Patients with cataracts should discuss these possibilities with their ophthalmologist in order for the best decision to be made for each individual.
Cataract surgery removes the natural, clouded lens of the eye and replaces it with a clear, artificial one. It is usually performed under local anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. The entire process usually takes less than an hour. There are several variations in both the removal and the replacement portions of the surgery. The technique used depends on both the patient and the physician.
Removing the Lens
· Extracapsular surgery removes the lens but leaves the capsule in place. This provides added support and improves the healing ability of the eye. The most commonly used type of extracapsular surgery is phacoemulsification is now the most commonly used version of extracapsular cataract surgery in the United States. Phacoemulsification first softens and breaks apart the lens, using ultrasound technology. The lens is then removed, leaving the capsule in place.
· Intracapsular surgery removes the entire lens, including the capsule. This is the least frequently used technique because of an increased risk of retinal detachment, swelling, and other complications.
Replacing the Lens
· Intraocular lenses (IOLs) replace the natural lens, by fitting into the lens capsule. They are inserted through a small incision and unfold inside the eye. Approximately 90% of cataract surgery patients are fitted with IOLs.
· Cataract glasses or contact lenses are used less often-in about 10% of the cases. Glasses or contacts are sometimes used for patients who are extremely nearsighted or who have other eye diseases that make them poor candidates for IOLs.
What are the risks of cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is generally considered to be safe and effective, but like any surgical procedure, there are certain risks associated with the procedure. The following is a list of complications that may occur following cataract surgery and lens implantation:
· High pressure in the eye
· Problems with the lens (such as damage or displacement)
· Retinal detachment
· Swelling of the cornea
· Drooping eyelids
· Clouding of the cornea
· Loss of the eye
Most of these complications are very rare. Discussing the surgery with a qualified ophthalmologist ahead of time and following the doctor’s recommendations may reduce the risk of complications. Most patients report good results from their surgeries, including improved vision.
What are Cataracts?
A cataract is defined as a clouding of the lens of the eye, which results in blurry vision. A cataract forms when protein in the lens begins to clump together and cloud a small area of the eye. This cloud will continue to grow and interfere with vision. Eventually, the cataract will need to be removed from the eye with eye surgery.
Cataracts can occur in one or both eyes and develop in one of the following four ways:
· Age-related – More than 50% of all Americans over the age of 65 have cataracts
· Congenital – Cataracts can form at birth or in early childhood
· Secondary – Steroid use or health conditions such as diabetes can increase the risk of developing cataracts
· Traumatic – Eye injuries can lead to the formation of cataracts, either directly following the injury or years later
Types of Cataracts
There are three types of cataracts, each defined by their location on the lens:
· Nuclear – this type of cataract is located in the center of the lens and is usually the result of advancing age
· Cortical – this type of cataract resembles the spokes of a wheel which extend from the outside of the lens to the center and is usually associated with patients who suffer from diabetes
· Subcapsular – this type of cataract develops at the back of the lens under the capsule and is usually associated with patients who take steroids or who suffer from diabetes
How are Cataracts Diagnosed?
Cataracts can be detected with a full optical examination including:
· Pupil dilation – dilation of the pupils allows the ophthalmologist to examine the lens and retina for eye diseases
· Visual acuity – this is an eye chart test that measures your eyesight at different distances
· Tonometry – this tests the fluid pressure within your eye