Cataract: Meaning, Symptoms, Treatment & Recovery
A clouding in the eye’s natural lens, a cataract is one of the most common ophthalmological problems seen in people over 40. While most cataracts are caused by simply getting older, modern technologies in today’s medicine have made it one of the most treatable eye illnesses worldwide. Some patients choose their local clinic or a nearby hospital to cure their cataracts, while others opt for a more radical solution and choose cataract treatment abroad. Here is everything you need to know about cataracts, including their symptoms, causes, treatment methods, and everything in between.
What is a Cataract?
Cataract meaning may be defined as a cloudy area in the lens of the eye. Cataracts have a larger risk of appearing as people get older. It is known that more than half of the world’s population aged 80 or older are prone to have cataracts or have already undergone surgery to get rid of them.
What Are the Causes of Cataracts?
Although most cataracts are directly age-related, there are numerous types of cataracts that can appear due to different reasons. Cataracts may also appear after a severe eye injury or after surgery for a different eye problem, such as glaucoma. That being said, these are the less likely possibilities that you may have cataracts if you are over the age of 40. Age is still one of the top cataract causes known to this day. Research also shows that people who have certain health problems like diabetes, people who smoke, drink too much alcohol, have spent a lot of time in the sun over the course of years, and take steroids, are at risk for cataracts as well.
Posterior subcapsular, nuclear sclerotic, and cortical cataracts are the three types of cataracts that specialists have been dealing with over the years in the medical community. Age, general health conditions, and inheritance are also key factors that need to be considered in the diagnosis stage of the illness.
Most Common Cataract Symptoms
Being one of the most common eye problems, cataracts have become an easy disease to spot due to their distinctive and numerous symptoms. While a cataract on the eye may not present any early symptoms, the late cataract symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Faded colors in vision
- Trouble seeing at night
- Sensitivity towards light
- Double vision
When cataracts are mild, you may not experience any symptoms at first. As the cataract grows, it can cause obvious changes in your vision. You may notice that your vision has become blurry and cloudy, colors look more faded than usual, you cannot see well at night, and any source of light including lamps, headlights, and sunlight, seems too bright for you to look at. Seeing double and having the need to change your prescription for your glasses too often are also other symptoms you may come across by when dealing with a cataract.
It is important to note that these symptoms can be a sign of different eye problems as well, which is why you need to talk to your eye doctor immediately once you have started experiencing any one of these symptoms. If left untreated, it is a known fact that cataracts can lead to significant vision loss and, ultimately, blindness.
Cataract Treatment: Is Surgery the Only Option?
To this day, surgery is the only and most effective way to remove cataracts. That being said, when a cataract in the eye is early on in its stage, there are a few home treatment methods you can turn to to manage it on your own. Using brighter lights at home or work, wearing anti-glare sunglasses, and taking benefit of magnifying lenses for activities such as reading may help you adjust to the presence of the problem. Do not forget that these are not treatment options, rather than a few mild home remedies you can take advantage of until it is time to remove the cataract surgically.
After conducting a detailed examination of your eye and the cataract, your doctor may choose to prescribe new eyeglasses or contact lenses that will initially help you see much better with the cataract. Once your cataract starts getting in the way of daily activities such as driving, watching TV, or reading, a cataract surgery will be in order. Being the most practical treatment option of all, cataract eye surgery is a simple and quick procedure that is usually completed within a few hours.
Your doctor removes the eye’s cloudy natural lens during the surgery, replacing it with an artificial one. This exchange may lead to your vision becoming hazy again in the upcoming years, although this is not always the case. You may once again consult your ophthalmologist in such situations, who will then suggest using a laser to open the cloudy capsule and restoring clear vision – also known as capsulotomy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cataracts
How long does a cataract operation take?
A straightforward procedure, cataract surgery only takes about 30 to 45 minutes, after which the patient can be discharged on the same day.
How long will it take for my vision to clear up after the surgery?
A successful cataract surgery will show its results just a few hours after the surgery, where the patient experiences the comparison of how clouded their vision was before and how much clearer it has become afterward.
How long does it take for the new lens to heal after surgery completely?
In order to regain complete control over your vision and for your eye to fully heal, you need to give it at least a couple of months. Ensure that you rest your eyes as much as you can, go easy on direct sunlight exposure, and take your medication as your physician has prescribed.
What are the basic precautions I can take to speed up the healing process?
Avoid rubbing your eyes, splashing water directly into your eyes, swimming for a week, and any sort of strenuous physical activity for at least a couple of weeks. When outdoors, make sure to wear dark and ultraviolet protective sunglasses. Try to avoid lifting heavy objects or bending at the waist as well.