Clear vision remains one of the essential attributes to function well in your day-to-day life. When it gets compromised, it can cause trouble in performing basic tasks. We have a natural lens inside our eyes. The lens bends (refracts) light rays that enter the eye to assist us in seeing, and it should be clear. Your lens becomes cloudy if you have a cataract. It’s similar to looking through a foggy or dusty car windshield. With a cataract, things appear blurry, hazy, or less colorful.
Cataracts are most common in people over the age of 55. However, as a result of trauma or medications, they can also occur in infants and young children. Cataracts usually develop in both eyes, but one may be worse than the other. Cataract treatment gets determined by the degree of visual impairment caused by the cataract. If a cataract only has a minor impact on vision, or if it has no impact at all, you may need no treatment. It is advisable to keep an eye out for any increased visual symptoms and maintain a regular check-up schedule.
Today, you will learn more about cataracts – their causes, types, symptoms, and risk factors. It will give you an insight into the eye condition.
What is Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of your eye’s usually clear lens. Seeing through cloudy lenses is similar to looking through a frosty or fogged-up window for people who have cataracts. Cataracts can cause clouded vision, making it difficult to read or drive a car (especially at night). Most cataracts develop slowly and do not interfere with your vision at first. However, cataracts will eventually obstruct your vision.
Intense lighting and eyeglasses can help you deal with cataracts at first. However, if your vision keeps interfering with your daily activities, you may require cataract surgery. Changes in the proteins and fibers of the lens cause the clouding of the lens. Cataract surgery, fortunately, is generally a safe and effective procedure.
Read more: What is Laser Cataract Surgery?
What are the Cataract Types?
Cataracts form when protein deposits in the lens of your eye, causing it to become cloudy. It prevents light from passing through. You may lose some of your vision as a result of it.
Many layers make up your eye lens, much like an onion. The capsule is at the very top. The cortex is the layer inside this capsule, and the nucleus is the layer on the inside. A cataract can form in any of these locations. Cataracts get their name from where they are in the lens and come in a variety of forms.
Here is the list of various Cataract Types due to their causes and severity:
- Nuclear Cataracts
Nuclear cataracts, also known as nuclear-sclerotic cataracts, are the most common type seen by doctors. Someone who lives long enough usually acquires one. They form in the nucleus of the lens, located in the center of the lens. As they deteriorate, your reading vision may improve. It’s called second sight, but it’s fleeting.
- Cortical Cataracts
Cortical cataracts take shape on the cortex, located on the outside edge of your lens. They begin as white wedges that resemble triangles and point toward the center of your eye. They scatter light as they grow. The most noticeable symptom is glare. Driving at night may be difficult for you.
They can also cause your vision to become hazy as if you’re looking through a fog. It may get hard to distinguish between similar colors or to determine how far away an object is. Because they can cause problems with both near and far vision, they usually get removed early on.
- Congenital Cataracts
Congenital cataracts you are born with or develop as a child. Some get caused by your genes, while others get caused by an illness. They may not require treatment if they are small or outside the center of the lens. However, if a baby is born with one that blocks vision, a doctor must remove it because it can prevent the eye from learning to see.
- Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts
Posterior subcapsular cataracts develop just inside the back of your lens capsule, which is the part of your eye that surrounds and holds the lens in place. They are directly in the light’s path as it passes through the lens. They manifest faster than other types of cataracts, and you may notice symptoms within months. They impair close-up vision and make it difficult to see in bright light.
- Anterior Subcapsular Cataracts
Anterior subcapsular cataracts develop near the front of your lens capsule. It can get caused by an injury or swelling in your eye. Atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema, can also cause this.
- Secondary Cataracts
When a cataract develops due to another condition or medical treatment, it gets referred to as secondary cataract formation. Diabetes, the use of steroids such as prednisone, and even cataract surgery are all potential causes.
You will find many other cataract types, but these get priority due to their causes and severity. In any case, if you have blurred vision, you need to get your eyes checked by a certified and experienced ophthalmologist at the earliest.
What Are the Causes of Cataract?
The most common cause of cataracts remains aging. It is due to usual eye changes that begin around the age of 40. That is when normal proteins in the lens begin to degrade. It is what makes the lens cloudy. People over the age of 60 usually experience some clouding of their lenses. However, vision problems may not appear for years.
Some inherited genetic disorders that cause other health problems can increase your chances of developing cataracts. Other eye conditions, previous eye surgery, or medical conditions such as diabetes can also cause cataracts. Long-term use of steroid medications can also result in the development of cataracts.
Let’s take a look at some of the causes of cataracts, other than aging.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts.
- Medications: Certain medications have become linked to the development of cataracts.
- Ultraviolet Radiation: According to research, unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation has seen linkage to an increased risk of cataract formation.
- Smoking: There may be a link between smoking and increased lens cloudiness.
- Alcohol Consumption: Several studies have found that patients who consume more alcohol have more cataracts than those who consume less or no alcohol.
- Nutritional Deficiency: Although the findings are inconclusive, studies suggest a link between cataract formation and low antioxidant levels (for example, vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids). Further research may reveal that antioxidants can aid in the reduction of cataract growth.
- Family History: If a close relative has had cataracts, you are more likely to develop one yourself.
Cataracts are rarely present at birth or develop soon after. You can inherit them or acquire them due to maternal infection (such as rubella) during pregnancy. A cataract can also develop due to an eye injury or surgery for another eye condition, such as glaucoma.
What are the Symptoms of Cataract?
Cataracts usually form slowly. You may be unaware of their presence until they begin to block light. Then you may notice:
- Blurred or hazy vision.
- Colors have a lower intensity.
- Increased sensitivity to light glare when driving at night.
- Night vision becomes harder.
- Change in the refractive error of the eye, also known as an eyeglass prescription.
- Color fading or yellowing.
- In a single eye, you have double vision.
At first, the cloudiness in your eyesight triggered by a cataract may impair only a tiny fraction of the eye’s lens, and you’d be oblivious of any vision loss. As the cataract grows in size, it clouds more of your lens and distorts the light that passes through it. It could result in more noticeable symptoms.
What are the Risk Factors of Cataract?
The risk of cataracts amplifies due to specific factors that influence the health of your eyes. You can avoid some of these risks by keeping some of your habits in check. The aspects that increase the risk of cataracts are:
- Increasing age – The older you grow, the risk of cataracts amplifies.
- Diabetes – A condition that can cause secondary cataracts.
- Excessive exposure to sunlight – It results in excessive exposure to radiation, resulting in the need for cataract surgery.
- Smoking – Some studies suggest smoking can hamper your vision, and when combined with other factors, can result in a cataract.
- Obesity – It can cause a strain on the eyes, blurred vision, calling for the need for cataract surgery.
- High blood pressure – Your lens can become cloudy or hazy due to high blood pressure as it affects the health of your eyes.
- Previous eye injury or inflammation – Sometimes, a previously inflicted injury can result in a cataract.
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications – These medications are associated with cataract development.
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol – Research found increased cataract formation in patients with higher alcohol consumption than those with none or lower alcohol consumption.
Read More: Benefits of Laser Cataract Surgery
There is no treatment to prevent or slow the progression of cataracts. Changes in vision caused by age-related cataracts can be very gradual. Some people may fail to notice the visual changes at first. However, as cataracts progress, vision symptoms worsen. Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc to a lower risk of certain eye diseases like cataracts. However, do not self-diagnose your eye condition. Seek help from a licensed and experienced ophthalmologist.
Remember only to reach out to the most advanced eye-care hospital and clinic for your cataract problem. The experts at Dada Laser Eye Institute will guide you through the entire process. The doctors explain the risks involved and share their knowledge about cataracts before your treatment. You can get in touch with the experts and get proper consultation by giving us a call at (+91) 9922995549 or visit our website to fill out a form.