Cataracts

Cataract aged lady

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of cataracts

Eyes are the primary connectors between an individual and the vast outer world. So it becomes a matter of concern when a person’s vision is disturbed. A very common disease that affects a person’s vision especially at old age is “cataract”. It is a very severe condition where the patient is neither completely blind, nor has a clear vision.

 

What is a cataract?

Cataract aged ladyCataract is defined as a type of vision impairment characterized by the unusual blurriness of the eye lens causing gradual opacity of lenses and loss of clear vision.

This condition prevents light from entering the lens and makes the eye hypersensitive to bright light. Cataract might affect one or both eyes and is a threat to healthy vision.

A recent report by the World Health Organization brought to light the alarming rise of cataract patients. Globally, 51% of blindness is caused by cataracts.

Mass awareness related to cataracts must be spread at the moment to educate people about the symptoms, preventive measures, and diagnosis of cataracts.

 

The common misconceptions

There are few dominant myths related to cataracts which often deter early and effective diagnosis. These are as follows-

  • Cataracts occur only in old people
  • Cataract may lead to cancer
  • Cataracts are caused by eye-strain due to reading in insufficient light

Although these assumptions are not completely false, an absolute generalization should be avoided.

 

Causes of cataract

Cataract dropsCataract may be an outcome of multiple anatomical and environmental factors. A few commonly analyzed causes of cataract are as follows:

  • Prolonged and unprotected exposure to Ultraviolet radiation
  • Trauma due to past incidents of eye-infection or eye injury
  • Certain drugs such as corticosteroids and diuretics
  • After-effects of previous diseases like diabetes, eczema (skin disorder), uveitis (eye inflammation), high blood pressure, glaucoma (disease of the eye)
  • Continuous exposure to toxic chemicals present in the environment
  • Addictive habits like smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Prolonged use of vitamin supplements (hypervitaminosis symptoms)
  • Diet rich in fat and deficient in anti-oxidant vitamins 

 

Symptoms of cataract

Cataract dropsThe signs and symptoms of cataract are quite prominent and facilitate effective diagnosis if detected at a premature stage. Cataract patients are usually familiar with the following symptoms:

  • Impaired vision accompanied by cloudiness or fogginess
  • A gradual opacity of the pupil causing loss of clear vision
  • Hypersensitivity to bright light (increased glare)
  • Short-sightedness (Myopia) characterized by difficulties in distance-vision
  • Double vision conditions where multiple images are perceived in one eye (diplopia)
  • Difficulty recognizing color (can lead to color-blindness)
  • Poor vision in bright sunlight
  • Poor night vision, occasionally leading to permanent night-blindness
  • Frequent change in prescriptions related to eye-glasses
  • Trouble performing mundane activities like reading, recognizing people or objects, driving, watching television and walking.

 

Progress of cataract

Cataracts may be unnoticeable and benign in the initial stage, but serious complications arise in the advanced stages. The disease gradually progresses through the following stages-

  • Excess protein accumulation in the lens causes a loss in clarity of image perceived by the retina. This stage is characterized by blurred vision.
  • Lens transforms to a yellowish or brownish color, gradually leading to “tinted” vision and color blindness.

 

Types of cataract

The classification of cataracts is given below-

Morphological classification: It is based on the anatomy of the eyes and has the following subtypes-

  • Nuclear Sclerotic Cataracts: These are the most commonly observed forms of cataracts and occur due to natural aging of the eye lens. The lens turns large, dense and yellowish, especially in the vicinity of the nucleus. This can lead to permanently obstructed vision. In few patients, the middle cortical layer turns whitish and the nucleus hardens abnormally. These conditions are collectively termed as – “Morgagnian Cataracts” and occur in rare cases. Sclerotic cataracts give rise to myopic conditions.
  • Cortical cataracts: These are marked by the formation of white ridges at the peripheral part of the lens and gradually advance towards the center.
  • Posterior sub-capsular cataracts: These are more critical than the above two types, and are formed as granules on the back side of the lens, exactly on the posterior capsule bag. They cause critical vision obstruction and are incurable without surgeries.

Aetiological classification: This classification is based on age, cause and environmental factors. It has the following subtypes-

  • Degenerative cataract: This occurs due to the degenerative aging of the eye lenses. It is characterized by anterior and posterior sub-capsular cataracts and a high degree of nuclear sclerosis.
  • Congenital cataract: These are manifested at birth and may be unilateral (cataract in one eye) or bilateral (cataract in both eyes) in nature. Congenital cataracts may be caused due to infections caused by rubella virus or pre-natal intake of drugs like thalidomide.
  • Traumatic cataract: It is caused due to previous eye injuries (characterized by suppressed iris and elevated ring formation).
  • Secondary cataracts: It occurs as a result of existing pathological conditions like diabetes, glaucoma, eczema etc.

 

Genetic connection

Children having a family history of cataracts are more likely to develop cataracts at birth. Congenital cataracts are also evident in children suffering from Down Syndrome or Lowe syndrome (due to chromosomal aberrations). A case study by A. Shiels and J.F Hejtmancik revealed that certain abnormalities in the PITX3 gene cause inherited cataracts, especially at birth. 

 

Treatment and Prevention

Cataract surgerySurgery is the only treatment method available to treat cataracts. The most widely used cataract surgery method is phacoemulsification. Under this procedure, a tiny incision is made near the affected cornea and a narrow probe is inserted to propagate ultrasonic vibrations. These vibrations help in dissolving the cloudiness of the lens. Other surgical methods include intracapsular and extracapsular cataract surgery.

Preventive measures for cataracts include:

  • Eat the right kinds of food – foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, and vitamin C can help prevent or delay cataract.
  • Quit smoking. Tobacco consumption is directly linked to the production of toxins that cause cataracts.
  • Wear protective sunglasses when going out in the sun. UV ray exposure can also trigger cataracts.
  • Keep your blood sugar in check and limit your alcohol consumption.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • One can resume daily activities of reading, writing, and working on computer after the surgery but shouldn’t strain the eyes much.
  • Wear your eye-protective patch throughout the day and even when you go to sleep. Avoid sleeping on your side (if your right eye was operated avoid sleeping on your right.)
Don'ts
  • Perform high impact exercises or other strenuous activities after the surgery as these tend to increase the pressure on the eyes.
  • Go for swimming or use a hot tub for at least 2 weeks after the surgery.
  • Drive vehicle for 24 to 48 hours after the surgery.

 

 

 

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Carb Cycling: Weighing the pros vs the cons of this diet routine Completely discarding carbs from your life will do you more harm than good. Read more about carb cycling,…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
Miracle extract from the root of maca: 10 ways it can help you! Maca root has been used for years in herbal medicine. Today scientific research is unearthing fresh evidence in…
Poop chart: Top things you didn’t you your poop could reveal about you Bristol poop chart was designed during the 1990s in order to help doctors identify various types of poops…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
Shilajit: A miracle Himalayan herb for an active and happy life The Himalayas contain more wonders than you thought. Shilajit is a miracle herb that is widely used in…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
leptospira Igm test
Leptospira-IgM Test A Leptospira-IgM test is a blood test which is carried out to detect anti-Leptospira IgM antibody. Leptospirosis is…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
How can Kegels help you overcome weak pelvic muscles & incontinence? Kegel exercises are pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can help you overcome incontinence issues that rise out of…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
shoudler exercises
Keep your shoulders pain-free with these shoulder exercises Shoulder exercises are important in order to prevent chronic back and neck pain. Learn more about how you…
rosacea-treatment--before-_-after
The best and safest ways to treat rosacea Rosacea is a skin disease that is characterized by reddish hives and rashes on the face. Read more…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find a list of…
Low fat diets
A complete list of low-fat diets and how to follow them Low-fat diets help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it works only with regular exercise and…
Gua sha: Scraping away layers of pain with this ancient healing tool Gua sha is an ancient oriental healing method which focuses on scraping the body with specific tools to…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in the…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
iron deficiency profile
Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…
piles
Best treatment for piles in Bangalore All you need to know about piles and piles treatment in Bangalore - the types of treatment available,…
50 common health conditions
What are the top 50 deadly and widespread diseases? A complete list of the top 50 most common and deadly diseases that plague humanity. Which disease is…

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