Cataract: symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention

What Is Cataract?

A cataract is a dense, cloudy area in the lens of the eye. A cataract begins when proteins in the eye form clumps that prevent the lens from sending clear images to the retina. It develops slowly and eventually interferes with your vision.

Symptoms of Cataracts

Common symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty in seeing at night
  • Frequent changes in glasses
  • Seeing colors as faded
  • Increased sensitivity to glare
  • Halos surrounding lights
  • Double vision in the affected eye

What Causes Cataracts?

There are several underlying causes of cataracts. These include:

  • An overproduction of oxidants, which are oxygen molecules that have been chemically altered due to normal daily life smoking
  • Ultraviolet radiation
  • Long-term use of steroids and other medications
  • Diabetes
  • Trauma
  • Radiation therapy

Risk Factors of Cataracts

Risk factors associated with cataracts include:

  • Older age
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of cataracts
  • Diabetes
  • Exposure to radiation from X-rays and cancer treatments

Treatment of Cataract

Surgery
Surgery is recommended when cataracts prevent you from going about your daily activities, such as reading or driving. Phacoemulsification, involves the use of ultrasound waves to break the lens apart and remove the pieces. Extracapsular Cataract Extraction, involves removing the cloudy part of the lens through a long incision in the cornea. After surgery, an artificial intraocular lens is placed where the natural lens was.

If you’re unable or uninterested in surgery, your doctor may suggest stronger eyeglasses, magnifying lenses, or sunglasses with an anti-glare coating.

Prevention of Cataracts

To reduce your risk of developing cataracts:

  • Protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses
  • Regular eye exams
  • Quit smoking
  • Eat fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants
  • Keep diabetes and other medical conditions in check

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