CATARACTS: MEANING, TYPES, SYMPTOMS, PREVENTION, TREATMENTS AND HOME REMEDIES
What are Cataracts?
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. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil.
Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 it is the principal cause of blindness in the world.
For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window.
Clouded vision caused by cataracts can make it more difficult to read, drive a car especially at night.
Types of cataracts include:
A subcapsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens: People with diabetes or those taking high doses of steroid medications have a greater risk of developing a subcapsular cataract.
A nuclear cataract forms deep in the central zone (nucleus) of the lens. Nuclear cataracts usually are associated with aging.
A cortical cataract is characterized by white, wedge-like opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the center in a spoke-like fashion. This type of cataract occurs in the lens cortex, which is the part of the lens that surrounds the central nucleus.
Causes of Cataracts
It is not precisely understood why people get cataracts. Other factors that may also play a role in the development of cataracts include:
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Extended use of corticosteroids
- Trauma to the eyes
This is the most common kind of cataract. There are three subclassifications, based on location: nuclear, cortical, and posterior subcapsular.
Congenital: Although it is not common, some babies are born with cataracts or develop them within the first year of life.
Traumatic: This type of cataract results from an injury to the eye.
Secondary: This is a cataract that is caused either by medications (most commonly prednisone or other corticosteroids) or disease, like diabetes. Cataracts are 10 times more common in diabetic patients than in the general population.
Risk factors of Cataracts
These factors increase your risk of developing cataracts:
- Advanced age
- A family history of cataracts
- Extensive exposure to sunlight
- High blood pressure
- Previous eye injury or inflammation (swelling) in the eye
- Previous eye surgery
- Long-term use of steroid medication
Symptoms/Signs of Cataracts
Common symptoms of cataracts include:
- A need for frequent changes in prescription glasses
- Blurry vision
- Double vision in the affected eye
- Halos surrounding lights
- Increased sensitivity to glare
- Seeing colors as faded
- Trouble seeing at night
How to diagnose Cataracts
You will get an eye exam to test how well you can see (remember to bring your glasses or wear your contacts to the appointment). Your doctor will also dilate your pupil to examine the lens and other parts of the eye.
How to Prevent Cataracts
There are various supplements on the market which claim to help slow the progression of cataracts and some eye drops have been marketed as a treatment for them. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that any of these can prevent or treat cataracts. The best advice to try to prevent cataracts, or to stop them getting worse, is to :
- Avoid using corticosteroid medications for any length of time. Long-term use of oral steroids is a well-known cause of cataracts. Studies are conflicting, however, over whether inhaled and nasal-spray steroids increase the risk for cataracts. Always ask your doctor about risk factors when starting a new drug regimen.
- Eat a diet rich in beneficial nutrients: Studies suggest that those with diabetes are at greater risk for developing cataracts. That’s why maintaining healthy blood sugar is so important—for both your overall health, and the health of your vision.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you currently have a healthy weight, work to maintain it by exercising most days of the week. If you’re overweight or obese, work to lose weight slowly by reducing your calorie intake and increasing the amount of exercise you get each day.
- Keep your diabetes under control: Data suggests that those with diabetes are at greater risk for developing cataracts. That is why maintaining healthy blood sugar is so important—for both your overall health and the health of your vision.
- Quit smoking: We all know that cigarettes pose a litany of health risks to you and those around you. However, did you know smoking affects your eye health too? Research suggests that smoking doubles your chances of developing cataracts and the risk continues to grow based on how much your smoke.
- Protect those eyes from the sun: We have said it before and we will say it again—protect yourself from UV rays and your eyes will thank you! “Ultraviolet light can hasten the formation of cataracts,” explains Dr. Jain, “even in younger patients.”
- To reduce your exposure, wear a wide brimmed hat when spending time outdoors and always keep sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection close at hand in any season. If you need sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection, head over to Eye where you can try on hundreds of sunglasses virtually.
- See your eye doctor regularly. Even if your vision is clear and healthy, make it a priority to schedule yearly eye exams. Routine visits allow your eye care professional to look for signs of cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other vision disorders. Early detection may actually save your sight!
Treatment for Cataracts
The first cataract treatment is ensuring adequate eye protection. Parents should encourage their children, even infants, to wear sunglasses and other forms of eye protection. Wearing wide-brimmed hats and visors have long been suggested to block ultraviolet sunlight. Workers with hazardous occupations should always wear protective shielding and eye protection.
If you smoke or drink, find ways to stop or significantly moderate your consumption. Chronic diseases need to be aggressively treated, especially weight gain and diabetes. Patients with diabetes have three-to-five times higher risk of cataract formation than does the general population. Effective management includes avoiding both chronically high and low blood sugar, as each can injure the lens.
Medications should be assessed to see which ones might be photosensitizers, and steroid eye drops should be used for as brief a period as possible. At age 50 or older, it is important to have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years. In addition to cataracts, your eye doctor can evaluate for age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other vision problems. Early detection and treatment is the key. Surgery
If your cataracts interfere with your daily life, you can have surgery to remove them.
Good quality eye services are crucial for diagnosing and treating people with cataract. While well-trained non-specialists can detect people in need of cataract surgery, often with a simple torchlight examination at their doorstep, the pre-operative assessment and the surgery itself requires infrastructure, equipment and technical skill.
Surgery is necessary when the cataract begins to interfere with daily activities. Ordinarily, a person doesn’t have to wait until the cataract is mature for sight to be restored. Post-operative and follow-up care can often be provided close to home, so The Foundation supports outreach services that enable more people to access available care.
To help improve your vision, your cloudy lens can be replaced with a new, artificial lens through a procedure called phacoemulsification. This is a commonly used, safe procedure which takes about 30 to 40 minutes. Your cloudy lens is destroyed with sound waves and is taken out. It will then be replaced with a lens made of a clear, artificial material, such as plastic.
If you have a cataract in both eyes, the surgery to remove each one will be done at different times. The surgery may be carried out six to 12 weeks apart.
Cataracts Home Remedies/Home Cure
Mix 1 cup of rose petals
4 tablespoonfuls of raspberry leaves
4 cups of boiling water
Let the ingredients rest for 30 minutes, strain and use as eye wash.
Other remedies for cataracts are:
Avoid dairy products and saturated fats these produce free radicals which cause cataracts and damage to the lens.
Eat spinach and take Lutein or spinach extract Contains carotenoid needed for retina and eye tissue sometimes reversing cataracts.
Vitamin A is very necessary for a healthy vision.
Dusty miller used to dissolve cataracts and corneal opacities, if used in the early stages of the disease.
Eat lots of green vegetables, specially spinach, kale and berries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries and fruits rich in Vitamin C and E.
Do not use any antihistamines if you have cataracts.
Use Eyebright herb in drops: This is an excellent drop for cataracts; it is more effective and safer than other commercial eye drops.
Complications of Cataracts
Any eye surgeon, no matter how experienced, will occasionally encounter a serious cataract complication. Although complications may be devastating for the patient and are always distressing for the surgeon
Complications that may occur with cataract surgery include:
- Bleeding in the front of the eye (hyphema).
- Infection in the eye (endophthalmitis).
- Swelling and fluid in the center of the nerve layer (cystoid macular edema).
- Swelling of the clear covering of the eye (corneal edema).
In general, poor vision after cataract surgery is caused by: inadequate correction of post-operative refractive error (lack of spectacles); failure to detect pre-existing eye conditions, e.g. macular degeneration or amblyopia (selection); or surgical complications (surgery).
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