Cataracts are quite famous among the oldies facing eye troubles. Yet, they affect many youngsters as well. If you don’t know what we are talking about or have questions about cataracts, their types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, prevention or treatment, you are at the right place. This article answers all your cataract related questions and aims to give the best possible advice if you are someone facing cataract issues.
What are cataracts?
Go down your memory lane to that biology or physics lesson that taught you about the mechanism of your eyes. Don’t worry, we aren’t talking too much technical stuff here. All you need to know is that you have a natural lens inside your eyes that refracts light rays to help you see.
This lens needs to be clear enough to help you see clear images. Having cataracts in eyes means a cloudy lens and blurred unclear images. The resulting bad vision can only take you so far in life.
The lenses we have in our eyes are made up of protein and water. It is when the protein starts clumping together that it makes our lenses cloudy. And this usually happens because of advancing age. Exactly at what age can cataracts affect us? There’s no right answer to that because one, it develops slowly, and two, apart from age, there are many other factors that can add to your risk of having cataracts. Can cataracts affect both eyes? Yes. But not simultaneously. If they do, the level of cloudiness will differ in both.
What are some signs and symptoms of cataracts?
Now that you know what cataracts are, your brain might be bombarding you with questions like ‘Can cataracts cause dizziness?’ ‘Are cataracts painful?’ ‘Do cataracts affect your vision at night?’ Because if the truth be said, you don’t want to find any signs or symptoms true for your body signalling the formation of cataracts eventually.
Here are the answers. Cataracts can cause dizziness, especially if you are old. They can be painful because of resulting headaches. Yes, they can make you use more light to see things properly at night. That’s not all. Here are a few other symptoms you need to be aware of.
- Faded colours.
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity towards glare (while driving at night or from sun, lamp, computers etc.)
- Frequently changing prescriptions.
- Seeing two images (double vision) instead of one.
What causes cataracts?
If you are wondering ‘Are cataracts hereditary?’. Yes, you are right. Many forms of cataracts are passed on through the genes. Yet, there are many other cataract causes that you need to know.
- Radiation therapy.
- Sun exposure.
- Excessive production of oxidants by the body.
- High doses of medications like Corticosteroids and steroids like prednisone.
- Advancing age.
- Nutritional deficiency.
- What are the various Cataract Types?
Here’s a list of 15 types of cataracts, any of which might become the trouble for you.
Nuclear sclerotic cataracts: This is by far the most common kind of cataract that forms to almost anyone who is adding year after year to their life, to the surprise of many. These cataracts form right in the centre of the lens i.e., the nucleus.
Posterior subcapsular cataracts: The part of the lens that holds it in place is called a lens capsule. A cataract that forms on the back of this capsule, on the interiors, is called posterior subcapsular cataract. This one is famous because of being quicker to form than the other types of cataracts.
Cortical cataracts: These kind occur on the cortex, i.e., the external edges of your lenses. They are shaped like wedges. You can detect them with symptoms like that of being extra sensitive to glare or hazy vision.
Congenital cataracts: While most cataracts are formed due to advancing age, this one happens right around your birth. Heredity is certainly the main reason behind these cataracts. Although, another reason for congenital cataracts is illnesses like rubella, which the mother might be suffering from during pregnancy.
Traumatic cataracts: These cataracts can be both sudden or super slow to develop. They happen due to some injury like a ball hitting you in the eye, a splinter, or a chemical reaction.
Secondary cataracts: These kinds of cataracts are formed due to secondary illness like diabetes or with extensive use of steroids. Sometimes, even a cataract removal surgery can lead to formation of another cataract of eye. Although, the new one is easily treated with a YAG laser capsulotomy.
Anterior subcapsular cataracts: Issues like atopic dermatitis, can lead to a cataract forming on the inside (front) of your lens capsule. These kinds are called anterior subcapsular cataracts.
Radiation cataracts: These cataracts are more common in cancer patients who have undergone radiation therapies. Also, people who spend a lot of time out in the sun under the harmful UVA and UVB rays are more at risk of radiation cataracts. You can prevent them from forming by protecting your eyes with anti-UV coating, that’s free when you get your sunglasses at Specscart. If you have prescriptions, you can opt for transitions or prescription sunglasses to prevent radiation cataracts.
Lamellar or Zonular cataracts: These cataracts are usually passed through the genes and can hamper both eyes of a kid. They start occurring in the middle zone and as fine white dots and then spread to the nucleus.
Post-Vitrectomy cataracts: Vitreous, the clear gel that is formed in the centre of your eye can lead to some eye problems. A surgery that helps remove that is called vitrectomy. Cataracts that may occur after this surgery is done as a side effect are what we call post-vitrectomy cataracts.
Polychromatic cataracts: Also known as Christmas Tree Cataracts, they make your lens cloudy because of coloured shiny crystals that form on the lens. These are more common in people with a condition called myotonic dystrophy. It is a genetic disorder that affects muscle function.
Brunescent cataracts: Remember nuclear cataracts? When they are not treated they turn brown and hard. This new version of the nuclear cataract is called Brunescent. Since it is now harder, the cataract is difficult to remove and treat. A sign of you having this kind of cataract eye is the inability to distinguish between colours.
Posterior polar cataracts: Another form of cataract that can be passed down through genes, the posterior polar kind forms on the back of your lens centre. They are extremely hard to remove but don’t worry, they don’t trouble you with dizziness, pain, or any such similar symptoms.
Anterior polar cataracts: These kinds of cataracts form on the front of your lens centre. They too, like their counterpart, posterior polar cataracts, do not cause any troubling symptoms like vision problems.
Rare diabetic snowflake cataracts: These are rare, as you might have guessed from the name, and are found in people suffering from diabetes. The kind progresses quite quickly and forms snowflake-like patterns on the lenses.
What are the risk factors that lead to cataracts?
After reading all those types of cataracts, you might be aware now of the most common risk factors like old age, diabetes, sun exposure, and eye-injuries.
Here’s a list of some more that you must know about.
- High blood pressure
- Habit of smoking
- Alcohol consumption
- Family medical history of cataracts
- Inflammation in the eye
- Hormone replacement therapy
- High myopia
How is the diagnosis done?
Diagnosis is a crucial step that leads to treatment. Proper tests done by experts can help you not only know if you have the issue or not but also in finding the better treatment option.
Here’s how cataracts are diagnosed with the help of a comprehensive eye test including:
- Current status check:
- Visual acuity measurement:Determines the extent to which a cataract may be limiting your clear vision.
- Refraction test: Helps to look for frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription.
- Evaluation: Your natural lens is subjected under high magnification and illumination to check for the location and extent of
- cataracts if any.
- Pressure Measurement: With this test, the intraocular pressure is measured within the eye to see if it falls in the normal range or not.
- Supplemental testing: These tests help determine your problems with glare sensitivity and colour vision.
How can cataracts be treated?
If you have been wondering ‘Can cataracts cause blindness?’, allow us to tell you, they can. But only if a cataract treatment is not done in the early stages. Although, this means there’s a positive answer for those asking ‘Can cataracts be cured?’.
Here’s how cataracts are treated once diagnosed.
If they aren’t severe, the doctor may opt for treating cataracts without surgery. You might think of this as cataracts natural treatment, but there’s no sure-shot natural option as such. When we talk of curing cataracts without surgery, the method referred to is that of using proper prescription lenses with anti-glare and anti-UV coating.
But in severe troublesome cases, surgery is necessary. It involves removal of the old natural lens and then replacing it with an artificial one which is a plastic intraocular lens.
Here’s how cataracts are removed. Small incision surgery: For this, a small probe is inserted into your eye from the tiny incision made in the side of the cornea. This probe emits ultrasound waves which break your natural lens and make it easier to remove it through suction. Extracapsular surgery: This method requires a large incision made in the cornea to remove your natural lens without breaking it. Finally, the intraocular artificial lens is implanted. Do not worry, this surgery is painless and artificial lenses do not need any extra care as well. Some people have this question ‘How often do cataracts come back after the surgery?’. The answer is they don’t. That’s because once your lens is replaced, the artificial lens cannot form protein clumps.
How to prevent cataracts from forming?
- Consult an optometrist for a comprehensive eye examination.
- Protect yourself from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Try glasses with anti-UV coating especially if you are outdoors. You can also use that change from light to dark on sun exposure and vice versa. Or you can opt for prescription sunglasses if you need powered lenses.
- Manage your health problems like < a href="https://specscart.co.uk/blog/glaucoma/">glaucoma, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure as these are quite risky factors to have.
- Eat a nourishing diet preferably plant-based. Antioxidants present in fruits and veggies are known to help. Some eye-friendly nutrients are lutein and zeaxanthin, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
- Stay clear from smoking and alcohol consumption.
Can you slow down the cataract from progressing?
Once you know you have troubling cataract, there’s no time to prevent it. Yet, you can use the same pointers mentioned above in the prevention section as the best cataract natural remedies to stop it from worsening. Make sure to visit your local opticians regularly for an eye-test.
How to use eyewear before and after cataract surgery?
Once cataract is diagnosed, you should focus on preventing it from worsening. Anti-UV glasses that protect against the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays are an important weapon here. If your sensitivity towards glare troubles you while driving or working in lighted areas, you should choose anti-glare glasses as well.
At Specscart, all glasses are fully loaded with anti-glare, anti-UV, and scratch-resistant coatings free of charge. That’s because, we believe it is extremely crucial to protect your eyes no matter if you have issues like cataracts or not. You can also choose transitions or prescription sunglasses to fight cataract causing radiations. These will help you both before and after the cataract surgery.
Once your cataract surgery is successful, you might need reading glasses or varifocal lenses to treat minor refractive errors and presbyopia that comes with age.
Whether or not you are suffering from cataract, step-up in your eye-health game today and protect your eyes with glasses loaded with free essential coatings.
Don’t forget to share this article with people you love, maybe those already having eye issues or any of the symptoms mentioned. For all old folks, this article is a must-read, so do make them read this.