The eyes are the most important sensory organ of the body. But it is also the part that most people take for granted. According to the World Health Organization’s 2014 data, 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired globally. Out of these numbers, around 246 million people have a low vision while the rest are suffering from blindness.
Certain diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma cause low vision. Sometimes, low vision is caused by eye injuries. Among all the cases of ocular diseases, cataract is responsible for 51% of world blindness. What causes it and what are the symptoms? Read the most relevant facts about cataract below:
- There are three types of cataract
The most common type of age-related cataract is the nuclear sclerotic cataract. It happens when the lens of the eyes harden and yellow over time. The natural lens loses it natural transparency as people age. Nuclear refers to the nucleus, the central portion of the lens while sclerotic literally means hardening. This kind of cataract develops slowly. It normally takes many years before it starts to affect one’s vision.
The second type of cataract is the cortical cataract. In simpler terms, cortical means cloudy areas or white opacities. It develops in the lens cortex. It causes a disruption in the fiber cells of the lens. The most common symptom is glare from intense focal light sources. Glare refers to difficulty seeing in the presence of bright light.
The third, the posterior subcapsular cataracts, are characterized by the blurriness in the most posterior cortical layer. It normally occurs among young people as well as people taking steroids. It is also common for individuals who are overweight and are suffering from diabetes.
- Cataracts usually develop in both eyes but not evenly
They form at different rates and can affect one or both eyes. For people who have cataracts in both eyes, doctors normally perform a surgery in a few days or few weeks interval for each eye. This is to allow the first eye to recover.
- Cataracts come with a number of symptoms
Aside from cloudy or foggy vision, people with cataracts also tend to have problems in seeing color. Due to the overall blurring, people with the cataract find it hard to see details. This affects their daily functioning such as reading, telling the time, and watching TV. There is also an increased sensitivity to glare. Because of the glare coming from oncoming headlights, people with cataracts find it difficult to drive at night. Another symptom, especially among older people, is nearsightedness. Most sufferers tend to have double vision in the affected eye.
- Cataracts are diagnosed through different kinds of examinations
There are three types of tests that doctors do to determine if a person has cataracts. These are the visual acuity test, slit-lamp exam, and retinal exam. In a visual acuity test, a doctor will assess how well a patient reads a series of letters. In a slit-lamp exam, the eye doctor views the structures in one’s eyes under an intense line of light. Doing this will make it easier to identify any small abnormalities. Another kind of test is the retinal exam. During the test, the doctor puts drops in the eyes to examine the retina. He will then use an ophthalmoscope to see if the lens has signs of cataract.
- A surgery is the most efficient treatment for eye cataract.
There are various medications for cataracts. Some people also wear prescription glasses to clear their vision. But according to Mayo Clinic, the only effective remedy for cataract is a medical procedure. A cataract surgery is done by removing the clouded lens and substituting it with a clear synthetic lens. These artificial lenses do not require cleaning or replacing, unlike contact lenses. Replacing the natural lenses with a synthetic lens is generally painless because surgeons use an anesthetic eyedrops to numb the eye before the operation.
To conclude, cataract is a common eye disease but can be treated especially with the advancement of medical technology. The earlier it’s caught, the better the chances to fully recover are. Have you noticed symptoms of cataract? If you experience any trouble with your vision, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your eye doctor ASAP.