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Cataract

Cataracts are a common eye condition that affects millions of people worldwide, especially as they age. While cataracts are often associated with the elderly, they can develop at any age and significantly impact one’s vision.

What are Cataracts?

Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which is situated behind the iris and the pupil. This clouding occurs when proteins in the lens start to clump together, obstructing light from entering the eye and causing visual impairment. Cataracts can develop slowly over time or progress rapidly, affecting one or both eyes.

Causes of Cataracts1

  • Ageing: The most common cause of cataracts is the ageing process. As individuals get older, the proteins in the eye’s lens may break down, leading to the formation of cloudy areas. This is called Age Related Cataract.
  • Genetics: Some people may be genetically predisposed to developing cataracts. If cataracts run in your family, you may have a higher risk of developing them yourself. Congenital Cataracts can even be present at birth.
  • Trauma: Eye injuries, such as blunt force trauma, can cause cataracts to develop. This damage may occur either immediately or over time as a result of the injury.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and those that require long-term steroid use, can increase the risk of cataract formation.
  • High Myopia: Having a high degree of short-sightedness puts the eye at risk of developing cataract.
  • Smoking: Studies have shown that smoking can be associated with increased risk of cataract.
  • Environmental Factors: Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and other sources may contribute to cataract development.

Symptoms of Cataracts2

The symptoms of cataracts can vary, but common signs include:
  • Blurred, cloudy or dull vision
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Double vision
  • Changes in colour perception (e.g. white appears yellow)
  • Frequent changes in glasses or contact lenses prescription

Treatment Options

The primary treatment for cataracts is surgery. Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. This outpatient procedure is highly successful and has a quick recovery time.

However, before surgery becomes necessary, individuals with cataracts may manage their symptoms with the following measures:

  • Prescription Glasses: A change in glasses or contact lenses prescription can help improve vision temporarily.
  • Improved Lighting: Adequate lighting can reduce glare and enhance vision, especially when reading or performing detailed tasks.
  • Anti-glare Glasses/ Sunglasses: Can help to reduce glare.

Tips to Maintain Eye Health3

  • Regular Eye Exams: Your eye care professional will be able to detect even early stages of cataract during a comprehensive eye examination.
  • Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Adopt a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and manage conditions like diabetes which can contribute to cataract formation.
  • Sun protection: Wearing sunglasses/ hats that block UV rays can protect the eyes from further damage.
  • Smoking Cessation

Conclusion

Cataracts are a common eye condition that can significantly impact vision, but effective treatments are available. If you experience symptoms of cataracts, it is essential to consult with an eye care professional for a comprehensive eye exam. Early detection and timely intervention can help preserve and improve your vision, allowing you to maintain a high quality of life.

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If you are concerned about your own or your child’s vision it’s best to book an eye examination to have this properly tested and diagnosed.