A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts are very common in older people. By age 70, more than half of all indians either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.
A cataract can occur in either or both eyes. It cannot spread from one eye to the other.
What is the lens?
The lens is a clear part of the eye that helps to focus light, or an image, on the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.
In a normal eye, light passes through the transparent lens to the retina. Once it reaches the retina, light is changed into nerve signals that are sent to the brain.
The lens must be clear for the retina to receive a sharp image. If the lens is cloudy from a cataract, the image you see will be blurred.
Researchers suspect that there are several causes of cataract, such as smoking and diabetes. Or, it may be that the protein in the lens just changes from the wear and tear it takes over the years.
How can cataracts affect my vision?
Age-related cataracts can affect your vision in two ways:
- Clumps of protein reduce the sharpness of the image reaching the retina
- The clear lens slowly changes to a yellowish/brownish color, adding a brownish tint to vision.
At first, the amount of tinting may be small and may not cause a vision problem. Over time, increased tinting may make it more difficult to read and perform other routine activities.
Who is at risk for cataract?
The risk of cataract increases as you get older. Other risk factors for cataract include diabetes, smoking, alcohol use, prolonged exposure to sunlight.
What are the symptoms of a cataract?
The most common symptoms of a cataract are:
- Cloudy or blurry vision.
- Colors seem faded.
- Glare. Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
- Poor night vision.
- Double vision or multiple images in one eye. (This symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.)
- Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
- These symptoms also can be a sign of other eye problems. If you have any of these symptoms, check with your eye care professional.
How is a cataract detected?
Cataract is detected through a comprehensive eye exam that includes:
- Visual acuity test. This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
- Dilated eye exam.
- Your eye care professional also may do other tests to learn more about the structure and health of your eye
How is a cataract treated?
The symptoms of early cataract may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If these measures do not help, surgery is the only effective treatment. Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.
A cataract needs to be removed only when vision loss interferes with your everyday activities, such as driving, reading, or watching TV. You and your eye care professional can make this decision together. . There are two types of cataract surgery. Your doctor can explain the differences and help determine which is better for you:
- Phacoemulsification, or phaco. A small incision is made on the side of the cornea, the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. Your doctor inserts a tiny probe into the eye. This device emits ultrasound waves that soften and break up the lens so that it can be removed by suction. Most cataract surgery today is done by phacoemulsification, also called “small incision cataract surgery.”
- Extracapsular surgery. Your doctor makes a longer incision on the side of the cornea and removes the cloudy core of the lens in one piece. The rest of the lens is removed by suction.
After the natural lens has been removed, it often is replaced by an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL). An IOL is a clear, plastic lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of your eye.
Advancements in IOL designs now give patients the option to choose a Monofocal, Multifocal, Accommodating or Toric IOL to replace the eye’s natural lens. Both Monofocal or Toric IOL correct nearsightedness and farsightedness and provide excellent vision at one point of focus, usually for distance. Toric IOLs also correct astigmatism.
In contrast to Monofocal and Toric IOLs, Multifocal and Accommodating IOLs, also knows as Presbyopia-Correcting IOLs ((like bifocal / multifocal / progressive glasses), provide a range of vision at near and distance, thereby allowing a person to perform most of their daily activities with reduced or no dependence on glasses. A wide choice of Multifocal, premium lenses like the ReStor, ReZoom, Tecnis and Crystalens are available for Dr. Smita gupta to select the best lens optics suited for your eyes.