A cataract is like a cloud covering the lens of the eyes. It is a whitish covering that spreads across the lens of the eyes, thereby obstructing vision. A cataract begins with proteins in the eye and produces clumps that cover the lens and hinder them from sending clear vision messages to the retina. Looking through a cataract covering eyes lens is like looking through a frosty window. With such obstructed vision, it is quite difficult and sometimes stressful to drive, read and even see, especially in a dark room or at night.
Researchers have found that most times, cataract upon inception does not affect the sight, but later on, in life, its effects begin to surface, leading to vision interference. The effects of cataracts can be mild in some cases, and in cases where vision is severely impaired, surgery is advised in order to prevent the victim from going blind completely. In mild cases of cataracts, eyeglasses can be used to balance a person’s vision. However, in severe cases, the surgery that is advised is usually an effective and safe option for its total treatment. Either way, you will be saved from the stress and trauma of having to look through a frosty lens all your life and be given another opportunity to have a clear vision again with zero risk involvement.
Cataracts can grow in both eyes, but not at the same time. It develops slowly and gradually and becomes worst if left unattended. It is an eye illness that is common among aged people, and about 70% of aged people with cataracts in the whole world have undergone cataract surgery.
The different types of cataracts are characterized by how and where they develop in the eyes. The following are the different kinds of cataract;
- Nuclear cataract: It forms in the center of the lens, thereby causing the middle to turn brown or yellow.
- Cortical cataract: It has a wedge shape and develops around the edges of the nucleus.
- Posterior subcapsular cataract: This forms behind the lens. It develops faster than the other kinds of cataracts.
- Anterior subcapsular cataract: Just like the posterior subcapsular cataract forms inside the back of the lens, the anterior subcapsular cataract forms inside in the front of the lens. This is sometimes caused by swelling or an injury in the eyes.
- Congenital cataract: This kind of cataract forms in a baby’s eyes at birth or begins to develop in the baby’s first year of life. This kind is usually not as common as the age-related cataract.
- Secondary cataract: This cataract develops as a result of certain medications and diseases. Some of the diseases that expose a person to the risks of cataracts are; diabetes and glaucoma.
- Traumatic cataract: It happens as a result of an injury to the eyes. However, it takes time before the effect begins to surface.
- Radiation cataract: The radiation therapy that is usually used in the treatment of cancer can bring about the formation of a cataract on the lens.
- Christmas tree cataract: It is also known as a polychromatic cataract. It occurs when the clouds covering the lenses become shiny and glittery.
- Lamella cataract: This cataract is common among children. It affects their two eyes, such that a tiny dot is formed in the middle of their eyes and over time begins to metamorphose into a Y shape, which can eventually cover the whole eyes. This kind of cataract can be transferred from parents to their children.
- Posterior polar cataract: It forms behind the lens and is caused by genes from parents, just like the lamella cataract. A posterior polar cataract does not show symptoms, and this is quite encouraging because it is quite difficult to remove, even with surgery.
- Anterior polar cataract: It forms in front of the lens. It is always like a dot in front of the lens but does not obstruct vision.
Causes and Risk Factors
- The most common risk factor and cause of cataract are aging. Other causes like an injury to the eyes and genetics then follow suit. Medications, previous eye surgery, underlying eyes, or general health issues also play big roles in the growth and development of cataracts. The following are other causes of cataract;
- Excess production of oxidants. Oxidants are chemically altered oxygen molecules as a result of certain lifestyles.
- Either from the sun or from cancer treatment.
- Underlying health issues like glaucoma and diabetes
- Prolonged and excessive usage of medications like steroid
- Eye trauma or injury to the eyes
- People who have experienced or still experience one or more of the following have a high chance of suffering from cataracts.
- Old age
- Exposure to radiation, either from the sun, x-ray, or from cancer management and treatment
- Past eye surgery
- Injury to the eyes
- Genetics or family history
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- High blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma, and some other health issues
The following are the symptoms of cataract;
- Blurry, dim, or clouded sight or vision
- Faint sight
- Double vision
- Yellowing of almost every object in your sight
- The alarming difficulty of seeing at night
- Light sensitivity
- Seeing every light being surrounded by halos
- High demand for bright light for reading and see
- The constant change of eyeglasses or lens prescription
- The symptoms might remain unnoticed if the cataract is still very tiny and covers a tiny part of the lens. However, as it becomes bigger and spreads to other parts of the eyes, you will begin to notice the gradual loss of vision, then other symptoms begin to surface.
When a cataract hinders you from productively going about your daily activities, surgery is recommended. Surgery is also recommended when a cataract obstructs the treatment of other eye issues.
There are various kinds of cataract surgery, but they all share one thing in common. The common thing is; the surgeon gets to remove the cloudy covering from the lenses and replaces it with a new one.
Getting surgery in a place as delicate as the eyes is really terrifying, and this is why most people who have cataracts do not buy the idea. However, the process is a safe one. Medications would be administered to you to help kill pains around your eyes. You will be awake when the surgery takes place, but you will not feel even the tiniest iota of pain throughout the surgical process. The surgery takes about 20 to 25 minutes without any need to pass the night in the hospital.
If the cataract occurs in both eyes, the surgery would be carried out one after the other; that is, surgery would be carried out first on one eye, and surgery would not be carried out on the other eye except the first one heals up.
People who have undergone cataract eye surgery can testify to its safe and smooth process and also the clear vision they get after the surgery.
Types of Cataract Eye Surgery
- Small incision surgery: it is also known as phacoemulsification. It is a surgical process that involves the use of a device that produces ultrasound waves to break up the part of the lenses that is clouded. Then the broken clouded lens is taken out and replaced with a new one (artificial).
- Large incision surgery: this surgery is mostly carried out on the eye when the cataract and has almost completely blurred out the person’s entire vision. This involves the complete removal of your lenses and replacing them with artificial ones. It takes a longer time to heal than small incision surgery.
- Femtosecond laser surgery: in this surgery, the laser is used to break up the clouded part of the lens, which would be replaced by an artificial one. This process can also correct astigmatism, as the surgeon can once and for all reshape the cornea while eliminating astigmatism in the process. This surgery is, however, a “one stone killing two birds” kind of surgery.
- Go for regular eye tests and check-ups for early detection.
- Avoid smoking
- Treat underlying health issues properly.
- Adopt a healthy diet that would involve vegetables and fruits
- Wear sunglasses to prevent your eyes from the rays from the sun
- Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol.
- Maintain a healthy weight and engage yourself in a healthy physical exercise routine
In conclusion, if left untreated, a cataract can lead to blindness after it must have successfully interfered with your daily activities. The most common treatment of cataracts is surgical removal. This process is quite effective and safe, and a number of people who have undergone the process can testify to its success.