What do you need to know about Cataracts?
Cataracts, Interesting Eye Articles
09 December 2022
When the natural lens of your eyes becomes clouded, it’s called cataracts. This happens when proteins in the lens break down and this will cause you to have a blurry, or hazy vision. Similar to looking through a foggy window, you may find it difficult to drive, or read.
Your lens is made up of water and protein, which are lined up to allow the passage of light. They help to focus your retina, so you can see things no matter the distance. Normally, your lens will be clear for light to pass through, but as the proteins break down and clump together, it can be blocked. Over time, the blockage can get bigger, which causes the symptoms of cataracts to be more obvious.
As cataracts develop, the signs can be easily missed, but as it grows larger, and covers a larger part of your eye, they will become more noticeable. So, what are the signs and symptoms you should watch out for?
● Clouded or blurred vision
● Double vision in one eye
● Faded or yellowed colours
● Being extra sensitive to lights
● Finding it hard to see at night
What causes cataracts?
With age, the protein in our eyes starts breaking down, which causes cloudiness in the lens. This usually starts at age 40, and by 60, it is common for people to have minor clouding of their lens. However, the signs will not be noticeable until years later.
Age-related cataracts have a gradual development compared to those which are found in younger people or caused by diabetes. Other factors that may cause this condition:
● Smoking and drinking alcohol
● Exposing your eye to too much UV rays (the sun)
● Having diabetes
● Suffered a serious eye injury
● Taking certain medications such as steroids
● Undergoing radiation treatment
To slow down the formation of cataracts, it is best started by removing or cutting down on habits such as frequent smoking and drinking. You can also protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses whenever you’re outside, or by wearing eyeglasses with an anti-UV coating.
What are the different types of cataracts?
Children can be born with cataracts, but this condition is rare, and usually due to genetics. It can also happen due to complications during pregnancy. For them to develop cataracts, it can be for the same reasons as adults, such as suffering a serious eye injury, and undergoing medical treatment that exposes them to high amounts of radiation.
If their cataracts are small enough to not hinder your child’s vision, then your doctor may monitor them to make sure no problems will arise. However, if they’re large enough to cause issues, then immediate treatment is needed to prevent other vision-related complications from happening.
Due to age, a cataract can develop because of changes in the lens of your eye. This is a common form, and usually begins to develop in those aged above 40, and those over 60 usually have some cloudiness in their lens.
You may speed up their development if you frequently drink alcohol, smoke, have family members with cataracts, have diabetes, or take steroids.
After an injury to the eye, the lens fibre will become disrupted. This can be because of penetrative trauma, caused by sharp objects (pencils, glass shards, knives) or a blunt concussive force. Depending on the trauma, the effects can either be seen after a few days or may take years.
This happens after cataract surgery, where some may develop cloudy vision. Also known as posterior capsule opacification, which can be solved through a laser treatment done by your ophthalmologist.
During cataract surgery, your lens will be replaced by a clear artificial lens, but over time, the thin membrane that holds it in place can cause your vision to be cloudy as it grows scar tissue. A difference from other cataracts, the cloudiness is on the outside of the lens and not inside.
What are the treatments for cataracts?
Surgery is the only option, but if you do not prefer this option, your doctor may be able to suggest help to manage your symptoms. You could be prescribed stronger reading glasses or asked to wear sunglasses or glasses with an anti-UV or anti-glare coating.
However, if cataracts disrupt your daily life, or obscure your vision too much, then surgery will be recommended. There are two types of surgical treatments:
High-frequency sound waves will be used to break the lens apart, which will then be removed, and replaced by an artificial lens.
This will be recommended if your cataract is too thick to be broken apart. The lens will be removed in one piece instead of being broken up and replaced by an artificial one.
What happens after surgery?
For a few weeks after the treatment, you may need to use eyedrops which will prevent infection, assist in healing, and control the pressure in your eyes. Even then, you’ll be able to resume with your routine after 1 day.
You will also be cautioned to avoid:
● Touching your eye
● Lifting heavy objects
● Doing anything that may injure your eye
Suspect you, or a loved one have cataracts? Book an appointment with us for a check-up, or contact us for more information.