Cataracts – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Cataracts – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

1

By Dr. Ravi Thadani, Ophthalmology

Clouding of the natural lens present behind the iris and the pupil is called ‘cataract’. This condition forms the major cause of vision loss and affects people usually above the age of 40. According to research, cataracts are a principal cause of blindness in the world in the present times.

It can be of three different types:

  1. Sub-capsular cataract: This type occurs behind the lens
  2. Nuclear cataract: This type occurs within the center of the lens or the nucleus
  3. Cortical cataract: This form of cataract is found in the lens cortex. The lens cortex is a part of the lens that surrounds the central nucleus.

Causes-

  1. Aging is one of the primary reasons for cataract formation by clouding the protein that makes the lens of the retina.
  2. Other subsequent causes of cataract include high levels of myopia (short sightedness), diabetes, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, hypertension excess levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body.
  3. A family history of cataract may also be a cause.

Symptoms-

Common symptoms of cataracts include blurring of the vision. Colors may appear too dull or too bright and the same is felt for light. The symptoms vary according to the type of the cataract. The nuclear cataract causes a short term improvement in an individual’s vision. This phenomenon called the ‘second sight’. In contrast, sub-capsular cataract fails to exhibit symptoms unless fully developed.

Diagnosis of cataract can be done with the following tests:

  1. Visual Acuity Test: An eye chart is used to measure how well you can read a series of letters.
  2. Slit-lamp Examination: The doctor uses a slit lamp to view the magnified images of those structures which are present at the front of the eyes.
  3. Retinal Exam: The doctor examines the retina using eye drops and devices such as slit lamp or ophthalmoscope (an instrument that is used to inspect the retina).

Treatment-

  1. Increasing the intake of nutrients may be a possible way of preventing cataract. Certain nutrients such as Omega 3-fatty acids and lutein have been associated with the prevention of cataracts.
  2. Temporary methods include visual aids, new glasses and strong bifocals.
  3. A cataract surgery is recommended for a long term solution to this condition and to prevent any relapse of the same. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an ophthalmologist and ask a free question.