Have you been asking, what are cataracts?
A cataract is an eye disease that is associated with aging.
They can also be caused by UV radiation and infrared radiation exposure, diabetes, hypertension, eye trauma, allergies, smoking and misuse of drugs like alcohol or corticosteroid.
It is characterized by the clouding of the lens that compromises vision.
In the United States, more than 50% of Americans who are at least 80 years old have cataracts or have undergone a surgical procedure to cure it.
Although aging is the primary cause of this eye disease, it can very well affect younger individuals including children who are exposed to the factors mentioned earlier.
This eye disease has been dealt with since the ancient times. The earliest record of cataract surgery was performed by an Indian surgeon during the 6th century, followed by the Romans and Muslims who developed references, the hypodermic needle and the technique on how to correctly extract a cataract.
What are cataracts? These pictures contrast normal vision (left) with the effects of a cataract (right).
How are cataracts formed?
The eye lens, which is located behind the iris and pupil, is made of mostly water and protein. It works like a camera lens by directing light into the retina and adjusts its focus so a person can see objects clearly up close or far away.
For some reasons, like those mentioned above, some of the proteins in the lens clump together and cloud the area of the lens. The mass that clouds the eye’s vision is known as the cataract. And as time passes, it may grow larger and cloud the lens even more – making it difficult to see.
An age-related cataract does not only happen when you’ve reached 80. Some individuals have cataracts as early as 40 years old. The only difference is, it’s small and doesn’t affect vision yet. Vision is usually lost because of a cataract by the age of 60.
Cataracts usually develop at a slow pace and can be identified by commoncataract symptoms such as blurred vision, glare, not seeing well at night, double vision, faded colors and rapid changes in prescription eyewear.
Prevention and treatment
In the early stage of a cataract, preventive methods such as wearing sunglasses with high UV protection and regular intake of antioxidants (vitamins A, C, E) can be used to slow its development. It is also recommended that individuals at the age of 60 or older must undergo a comprehensive dilated eye exam every two years.
For moderate to severe cases, fortunately, cataracts are treatable. Surgery is performed to remove the cloudy lens at any stage of development. But because of possible risks, eye surgeons strongly suggest to wait until there is some change in vision before the surgery is performed.
Cataract surgery is usually done using local anesthesia and the patient may be able to go home that same day,but for other eye complaints you can look into other alternatives such as laser eye surgery or contact lenses.
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