Cataract

What causes cataracts?

Cataract is a situation when the lens of the eyes becomes cloudy. We see an image when light travels through the pupil and is focused through the lens on the retina. It is essential that the lens remains clear.

If you find your vision blurry, dim or cloudy, there are chances that you may have a cataract. In the early stages, there may not be any changes in your vision and you may find that you can see well with just a change of glasses but slowly you will find it difficult to view things. Consult an ophthalmologist immediately if you find your vision becoming blurry or dim. Your ophthalmologist will tell you whether it is cataract or some other problem.

Cataract is one of the commonest reasons for vision loss, especially in people over the age of 60 years, but can occur at an earlier age. It develops with age and is treatable with surgery. Cataract operation is the only way to solve the problem. However, if you are not facing significant disturbances in your lifestyle, changing eyeglasses can work. Medicines, such as drops or tablets cannot cure a cataract, nor indeed can they slow its progression.

If you are getting cataract, it is important to visit your ophthalmologist, who can discuss the possible need for surgery and its timing depending on your lifestyle needs. Every individual’s case is different so there is no “one size fits all” solution. Your ophthalmologist can assess your condition and offer you the correct option regarding timing of surgery, choice of intraocular lens implant and will also answer any other questions you may have. Today Intraocular Lenses are available in a wide range of prices and quality to suit every requirement and pocket.

Cataract Symptoms

The symptoms of cataract are:

The disease begins to take effect with age. Get your eyes checked at the age of 40. As you grow older the risk increases. With time, the lens of your eyes becomes thicker and less transparent. Areas of the lens become cloudy as proteins within the lens begin to cloud. Treatment is very effective at restoring vision.

Risk factors
Given below are some factors that increase the risk of developing the disease.
  • Advanced age
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Substantial exposure to sunlight
  • Family history of the disease
  • Previous eye injury or surgery
  • Prolonged use of steroids
What causes cataracts?

The lens of our eye is made up of proteins and water. As we grow older, the lens hardens and becomes opaque. Proteins get clumped making some areas cloudy. This cloudiness is called cataract.

Less common types of cataract

Below are the less common types of cataracts that are not related to ageing.
Traumatic cataract
It develops directly due to an eye injury. It may appear immediately or can develop after several months or years after the injury.
Congenital cataract
Congenital cataract develops in children or infants. This type of cataract can be hereditary or be associated with birth defects. Sometimes it may occur without any reason.
Cataracts from other diseases and steroids
These cataracts can develop from earlier eye surgery or diseases. Imprudent use of steroids can also result in this type of cataract. Prolonged use of steroid eye drops is an important cause of cataracts.

Diagnosis

The disease is diagnosed in the following ways:
Slit-lamp microscope exam
Here the ophthalmologist minutely observes the eye's cornea, lens, iris and the space between cornea and iris using slit-lamp microscope to look for abnormalities.
Examination of the retina
In this process, the eyes are dilated and using a slit lamp or ophthalmoscope the doctor looks for cataract signs and signs of any other eye disease that may be present.
Visual acuity test
Here each eye is tested individually to assess the vision’s clarity.

Steps after cataract diagnosis

Here are some steps that you must take after diagnosis of the disease:

  • Quit smoking
  • Use brighter lights for reading
  • Control conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Use the right eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • Avoid using eye drops that claim to remove cataracts
  • Avoid driving at night, or even in the day depending on your level of vision
Treatment of Cataract

If the disease is affecting your lifestyle and visual needs then surgery is the only option. In surgery, the cloudy natural lens is replaced with an artificial lens. The artificial lens is known as Intraocular lens (IOL). With technological advances, cataract treatment has become easy and cost-effective.
Cataract surgery
Before the surgery, the doctor measures the length and curve of your cornea to determine the right lens to implant. If you had a laser vision correction earlier, provide the prescription so that your doctor can calculate the right IOL lens power.
You must inform your doctor about all the nutritional supplements and medication you are taking. There are certain alpha-blocker drugs (Cadura®, Uroxatral®, Flomax® or Urimax®) that prevent proper dilation of the pupil during surgery. This can lead to complications, but if your ophthalmologist knows about these then precautions can be taken to reduce the risk.
Cataract surgery process
Phacoemulsification is the most common type of surgery worldwide. It is the standard of care for cataract treatment. In this procedure, a small incision is made on the side of the cornea. A high-frequency ultrasound instrument is inserted to break the cloudy lens and remove it. After removing the cloudy lens, an IOL is implanted that allows light to pass properly. A protective shield is placed over the eyes after surgery.
After operation, it is vital to put eye drops exactly as prescribed by the doctor. You must also take proper care of your eyes by wearing eye shield. Prevent dust, dirt and water from entering your eyes. Do not rub your eyes.

Risks and complications associated with cataract surgery

There are certain risks associated with the surgery. They are:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling of retina and cornea
  • Detachment of the retina
  • Glaucoma
Costs of cataract surgery

Many private insurance plans will cover costs. If you are not insured, you will have to bear your cataract surgery cost.

Dr Somdutt Prasad, one of the best retinal specialists and a noted eye doctor in Kolkata, is well-versed in all aspects of cataract surgery. At i4vision, patients undergo successful surgery and it opens a whole new world for them. The modern facilities available in this leading eye care clinic in Kolkata make the entire process hassle-free.