When the natural lens of the eye begins to become cloudy and interferes with normal vision, it is called a cataract. Although this is a condition that occurs with age, children are also affected with congenital cataracts. Some young adults are likely to develop this eye condition. Unlike a normal lens that is clear and allows light to pass through the retina, in an eye affected by cataract, the vision turns blurry and colors appear faded. Some people also experience double vision, difficulty with night vision and need bright lights when reading.
For some, during cataract evaluation, one or both eyes may be affected. It can progress rapidly or slowly and the individual may not notice until there is a problem with the ability to see.
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What are the causes and symptoms?
The most common causes of this eye condition are:
- Trauma and injury
- Prescription drugs
- Other eye defects and surgery
- Changes in the eyes' lens
- Smoking and alcohol use
- Poor diet
- A family history for early occurrence
- Excessive exposure to sunlight
When blurred vision makes daily activities like reading, driving and gradually seeing difficult, a thorough cataract evaluation is done by an ophthalmologist and subsequently treated with surgery to replace the cloudy lens with an artificial lens. If both eyes are affected, the surgery is spaced one or two months apart, depending on its severity. In a majority of the cases, surgery is successful and the result is better vision.
During the full eye examination, the ophthalmologist or optometrist check the entire eye to check for any other disease and review the medical and ocular history. A visual acuity test is done after checking eye movements and pupillary response. Besides these, eye pressure is checked and the front and back of the eye are examined after dilating the pupils with eye drops.
Before the surgery, the eye surgeon carries out a per-operative assessment to confirm whether it is indeed cataract and to also determine whether the patient can undergo surgery. Other factors are also taken into account and these include:
- The problem with vision must be due to cataract. The presence of other conditions that affect vision may influence the outcome of the surgery.
- If there is glaucoma, eye pressure must be maintained with medication. If glaucoma is also severe, a procedure to treat both is considered.
- The surgeon checks to see if the pupils can be dilated with eye drops or mechanical methods.
- If retinal detachment occurs, a different procedure is carried out.
Once surgery is performed the person can return to routine activity soon, following the strict eye care regimen normally advised for a week or ten days. The surgeon also recommends avoiding rubbing the eyes, preventing dust from getting in the eye, and abstaining from activities like swimming and strenuous exercise,and applying eye makeup during this time.
Those suffering from this invariably have other eye conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and problems related to diabetes. This condition can be removed even in the presence of these conditions.Often, if an early cataract evaluation has been made, simply changing glasses or wearing sunglasses to protect from the sun and better lighting while reading can help.