Cataracts - Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Surgery, Complications
What are Cataracts?
This is a medical terms that is given to the hazing or misting of the lens in the eye. It is from a Greek word "cataractos" which translates into running water where it gushes and turns unclear and foamy and then when it is not gushing it is clear and calm. There are millions of people around the world who suffer from cataracts. They can develop in both or just one eye. If they are in both eyes usually one will be more severe than the other. There are two different kinds of cataracts which are:
- Congenital cataracts - these are also referred to as childhood cataracts and can be present at birth or shortly afterwards. Sometimes they are not diagnosed until later in children. If this happens, this type of cataract is referred to as juvenile, developmental, or infantile cataracts.
- Age related cataracts - this is the form that is most common and they occur late in life.
When the symptoms start it is usually develops painlessly. Other symptoms may include:
- When you develop a cataract the vision in your eye starts to become misty.
- You may also see halos around the light.
- Your vision may be worse in bright sunlight or intense light.
- You may also notice that your color vision may not be as good as it use to be. They start to yellow and the color changes.
- Night vision starts to become more difficult
- White spots form on the pupil of the eye
- Contrast falters
- You could start to see double in one eye
- You may have dim or blurred vision
- You eyeglass prescriptions are changing constantly.
- Foggy vision
- You start to have trouble seeing completely.
- May have trouble watching television and reading.
Most cataracts are caused by your eye aging and a build-up of protein on the lens of your eye. It is usually noticed when you hit fifty to sixty years of age or older. Other possible causes of cataracts included:
- Related to trauma - if your eyes are subjected to trauma such as a severe accident or a chemical accident it can result in cataracts developing. It all depends on how severe the trauma was. Cataracts can develop when the accident happens or it could be post traumatic and happen over the years after the accident.
- Radiation - this is when you have repeated exposure to sunlight or direct exposure to the sunlight’s ultraviolet rays. There may also be other kinds of radiation that cause the same effect. This is why it is very important to protect your eyes and wear safety eye wear.
- Cataracts can also be caused by some medical conditions such as diabetes
- Certain medications such as steroids if they are not given accurately may make you more susceptible to developing cataracts.
- Not eating the nutritious foods that are important for eye health.
- Family history.
If you start developing any of the signs of cataracts you need to visit your ophthalmologist to have a complete examination of your eyes to see if you have cataracts developing. When you visit your ophthalmologist they will do a variety of tests that include:
- Slit lamp evaluations or some other device like this. Using this type of test the doctor will dilate your pupils with eye drops and then they will use an ophthalmoscope to shine a light beam of high intensity to check the parts of your eyes. With this test they are looking for any build-up of protein on the lens.
- Glare sensitivity test is where the patient is asked to read a chart two times with one of those times being in a bright light.
- Contrast sensitivity test which is where the patient is asked to read low contrast letters.
- Potential vision test using the eye chart where you will be asked to read black letters that are on a white background.
- Tonometry tests where a puff of air is blown into the eye in order to measure the fluid pressure that is inside your eye.
The only known cure, or treatment, for cataracts is to have the cloudy lens removed. It is not done by using a laser but instead there is a tiny probe that goes into the eye. Then using ultrasound, which are very fast sound waves, the lens is dissolved. This is a procedure that is known as phacoemulsification. Once this procedure is done a small plastic lens is put where the natural lens was during the same procedure. It will normally only take fifteen to twenty minutes to do this procedure.
If you want to wait on surgery there are some alternative methods of treatments that a person can try such as:
- Using N-Acetyl-Carnosin Can-C eye drops but they should see their eye doctor first before using this method of treatment
- Avoid consuming any lactose products because these types of products may cause cataracts to form.
- Using supplements such as riboflavin, zinc, or copper.
- Take one thousand milligrams of vitamin C daily to help lower the effect of free radicals which are thought to cause cataracts.
- Take vitamin E supplements to help reduce the condition but first check with your eye doctor to see how much you should take.
Most of the time when cataract surgery is done it is under local anesthetic and the patient is awake. The most common complication with this surgery is that the posterior layer of the clear pocket behinds the lens starts to become cloudy. This generally happens in only one in five people and is usually within a couple of years after the surgery.
Pros of having cataract surgery
- The most important pro is that you will have better vision.
- The risk that is involved with having the surgery is less than ten percent.
- If the surgery is done in the hospital the stay is short. If the surgery is done mid morning you will be out of the hospital by early evening, maybe even mid-afternoon.
- You can live a normal life again because your vision is back to normal
Cons of having cataract surgery
- As with any surgery there are some risks but these usually only occur in one in ten people.
- Inconvenience with your sight which means that after the surgery there may be some activities like having to wear dark glasses or being asked to not face bright lights for a little while after surgery.
- Made need other vision correction does not mean another surgery but you may need glasses if the vision is not cloudy but not entirely clear.
As with any surgery there could be complications but most patients do not have any complications. Some complications that can occur are:
- The complication that is most common would be the itchiness or stickiness of the eye
- There could also be cataract fragments left inside and you would need another operation to remove them
- The lens rupturing or tearing when the surgery is done but this is a very low complication.
- It is very rare that a patient would develop an infection after the surgery but it can happen. If it does, it is a very serious medical condition. If there is an infection the eye that was operated on would become very painful and red.
- Retinal detachment
- Inflammation of your eye that had the cataract removed
- Uveitis which is inflammation of the middle part of your eye.
- In the central part of your eye fluid accumulation can happen after the surgery but if this happens the problem is usually resolved with the proper treatment within a few weeks.
- Inside the back or front of your eye there could be bleeding
- The displacement of the implanted lens
- Leaking incision
- If the corneal incision does not properly you could develop astigmatism. This condition can change the way your cornea looks..
Most of the complications that are minor and occur during or after surgery will disappear in a two weeks. If they last long or seem bothersome make sure that you see your ophthalmologist.