Story By Jane Riley | The Garden Island
Most cataracts develop due to changes in the eye’s lens tissue and are directly attributable to aging, or eye injury. Some cataracts are related to inherited disorders that cause health problems or eye problems, such as diabetes, or may be due to the long-term use of steroids.
The lens is the site of cataract formation, and this is located behind the iris (the colored part of your eye). The lens’ job is to focus the light that comes through your eye on the retina, to form a clear, sharp image. A cataract scatters the light as it passes through the lens and blurs the image formed on the retina. When the cataract is due to age, usually it causes tissues within the lens to clump and become less transparent and flexible, causing clouding of the lens and the images projected on the retina.
Cataracts may form only in one eye, but usually develop in both, although they are not generally symmetrical.
Cataracts can form in the center of the lens or affect the edges of the lens, or the back of the lens, and all affect the images sent to the retina differently. Congenital cataracts are usually due to an infection during pregnancy, and do not always cause vision problems.
Factors that increase your risk of cataracts are increasing age, diabetes, excessive alcohol intake, excessive sunlight exposure, exposure to radiation such as X-rays or cancer radiation therapy, a family history of cataracts, high blood pressure, eye trauma, obesity, eye inflammation, previous eye surgery, long-term use of corticosteroids and smoking.
If you begin to notice a change in your vision you should see your eye doctor and have an exam. Usually, the eye exam will entail reading the eye chart to determine your visual acuity, using a light and magnification to look into your eye to detect abnormalities, and dilating your eyes to take a look at your retina and your lens. If you have cataracts you will need to see an ophthalmologist who may need to perform cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery involves replacing the clouded lens of your eye with a clear artificial lens. The artificial lens (intraocular lens) is positioned in the same spot as your normal lens and remains as a permanent lens in your eye. For some individuals, other conditions do not allow for placement of an intra-ocular lens, so vision may be corrected by removal of the cataract and use of eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Cataract surgery is routinely done as an outpatient surgery without the use of general anesthesia, but rather using local anesthesia. The surgery is considered safe, but with some risk of infection and bleeding and an increased risk of retinal detachment afterwards. The recuperation period is about eight weeks. If surgery is required in both eyes, usually the second eye is operated on a month or two after the first one. While deciding if cataract surgery is appropriate for you, try to make sure that your eyeglass prescription is the most accurate possible, use a magnifying glass to read, protect your eyes from the sun by using sunglasses and a broad brimmed hat, limit your night driving, and manage any other health issues to the best of your ability.
Clearly, when your vision deteriorates to the point of interfering with your daily life you should consider cataract surgery.
The best advice I can give you to avoid cataracts is to eat healthy, choosing copious amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise to maintain (or achieve) a healthy body weight and lower your blood pressure. Strictly manage any health issues such as diabetes that you have, reduce alcohol consumption, wear sunglasses, don’t smoke, have regular eye exams, and take a very good antioxidant vitamin to give your eyes the nutrients that they need to be healthy.
Read the full article at The Garden Island.