Understanding Cataracts

A cataract is an eye condition where one or both lens of the eyes develops a cloudy appearance. Although painless, the cloudy area in the eye can gradually block light passing through the lens to the retina.

The retina is the layer of nerves located at the back of the eye that detect light and send the signals to the brain to enable vision. Cataracts causing the cloudy appearance of the lens can block light to a considerable degree so as to result in vision problems.

Causes of cataracts

Cataracts are considered to be a product of aging. But there are also other factors which can lead to the development of cataracts. Long term exposure to radiation or ultraviolet rays can also cause cataracts to develop.

There are also other health conditions such as hypertension and diabetes that can aid in the development of cataracts. Physical trauma or injury to the eyes can also be the reason for cataracts to develop in the lens of the eyes.

Symptoms of cataracts

There are different degrees of cataract development in people. It can either be partial or complete. Cataracts can also be stationary or progressive and can also be either hard or soft. These instances may develop different symptoms that are associated with having cataracts. But there are general symptoms that people may experience once the cataract begins to develop.

One of the most common of symptoms that most people with cataracts experience is a cloudy and foggy vision. People with cataracts also tend to notice that they are seeing more glare coming from street lamps as well as from the sun during the day.

Some people with cataracts may experience having double vision in one eye. There are also some instances that a cataract may help improve near vision for a short period of time. But there are also times that cataract sufferers may experience making frequent changes of their prescription glasses.

How to treat cataract?

Surgery is the only method known to correct vision loss that is brought by cataracts. With a sufficiently developed cataract, the only way to treat it is by making an incision on the eye to surgically remove the lens. There are two types of eye surgery that are mainly used to remove cataracts.

One is extracapsular cataract extraction or ECCE which is done by removing the lens but leaving a majority of the lens capsule intact. This can be done by the use of high frequency sound waves to break up the lens before extraction.

The other method used for removing cataracts surgically is intracapsular cataract extraction or ICCE which involves completely removing the entire lens of the eye including the lens capsule. In both types of surgery, the removed lens is replaced with a plastic lens.