A cataract is a group of eye disorders that lead to the cloudy appearance of the eye lens which is normally transparent. This cloudy appearance of the eye lens leads to blurred vision and vision loss. A cataract starts developing when proteins, which are present in the eye accumulate to form clumps that which then hinder with the clarity of images formed on the retina. The retina functions by converting the light coming through the eye lens into optical signals that form the image. These signals are then sent to the optic nerve, which is further carried to the brain. Although most cataracts are age-related and develop after the age of 60-70, however, congenital cataracts can also be present at the birth or could even appear a while after during infancy or childhood. Cataracts can appear either in the single eye or both eyes, however, chances of them developing in both eyes are not so high. Every year, millions of people are diagnosed with cataract and the number has been increasing. Thus, cataract surgery is a common and frequently adopted procedure by the eye surgeons which has a good success rate.
There are many visible symptoms of cataract, especially when one starts getting problems related to reading or driving in the night.
People with cataracts may have the following symptoms:
● Blurry and cloudy vision
● Small spots or dots present in the unclear vision
● The patient sees small patches that blur parts of the field of vision
● Worse vision in dim lights
● Worse vision even in very bright light
● Less cleared and faded appearance of colour
● Difficulty in reading which becomes impossible over time
● Change in eyeglasses frequently
● No special help in vision by wearing eyeglasses
● Seeing a halo around bright objects like the car headlights
● Double vision in one eye
There are can be many causes of cataracts. These include:
● High production of oxidants in the body, altering the normal daily functions of the body
● Heavy Smoking
● Exposure to ultraviolet radiation
● Heavy use of steroids and other medications
● Trauma and stress which weaken the optical nerves
● Exposure to radiation therapy
There are mainly four types of cataract that occur to a human eye other than age-related cataracts. They are:
● Secondary cataract: As the name suggests, this type of cataracts develop from secondary conditions like the eye surgery of glaucoma, or due to other health-related problems like diabetes, high steroid intake.
● Traumatic cataract: A severe eye injury can make it the eye more vulnerable to catch a cataract.
● Radiation cataract: Exposure to several harmful radiations can lead to cataract formation.
● Congenital cataract: Cataract that is present from birth, most often present in both eyes. Congenital cataract may not greatly affect vision, but if it does, cataract surgery may be needed.
The doctor will recommend you a cataract surgery when your daily activities such as driving or reading are hampered by the loss in vision. Sometimes, when the eye has multiple problems including cataract, the cataract surgery is performed first before other eye problems are treated. In the cataract surgery, the cloudy lens present in the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial and clear lens. This is an intraocular implant or an intraocular lens. This is known as phacoemulsification or phaco-extracapsular extraction. The doctor first administers regional anaesthesia in order to numb the site of operation. As the anaesthesia starts kicking in and the area becomes numb, the eye surgeon begins by making a small incision in the cornea at the front. After the cut is made, the doctor then inserts a small probing device into it which uses the ultrasound, thereby breaking up the cloudy formation in the lens into tiny pieces which are eventually sucked out. The eye surgeon then inserts the artificial lens through the cut. The news lens inserted also has a capsule which holds it in place. The lens is first folded when inserted through the cut. After it enters the eye, the doctor adjusts it to unfold it. The entire cataract surgery procedure takes about 30 minutes. And patients can be discharged the same day.
The recovery from cataract surgery can take up to a few days before you resume your daily activities. The activities to avoid during the first one-week post cataract surgery are:
● Strenuous activity
● Driving, especially during the night
● Reading delicate structures
● Exposure to too much light
● Direct contact of eye with water. During showering, the eyes must be closed in order to avoid water contact with the affected eye that may cause infection.
● Dusting or contact with anything that may have germs
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