Cataracts in the eyes are a condition linked to vision loss. It usually appears in people over 60 years of age, but it may also develop in younger patients.
This loss of vision is linked to opacity of the lens, whose natural state is transparent.
People who suffer from ocular cataracts have seeing blurred or hazy images, a sensation similar to that of seeing through fog. This loss of sharpness becomes evident when it becomes difficult to carry out daily tasks like reading, driving, distinguishing objects, etc.
Cataracts usually develop gradually and the loss of sharpness in vision does not occur from one day to the next. However, the condition does not resolve itself and the visual acuity of those who suffer from cataracts will progressively decrease.
Symptoms of eye cataracts
The appearance of cataracts is usually related to:
- difficulty seeing at night
- perception of halos around lights or bright objects
- double vision in one eye
- loss of color perception
- light sensitivity
- blurry vision
Cataracts usually appear in both eyes, but they will have behave differently in each eye. One of the eyes will usually be more affected and will have less vision than the other.
Cataracts cannot be detected with the naked eye, so if you have vision problems and several of the symptoms described, it is time to consult an ophthalmologist.
Why do cataracts occur?
The transparency of the lens can be affected for various reasons, but the cause is usually related to natural aging or injury.
Cataracts caused by aging are linked to the loss of flexibility in the lenses that are part of the eye. As we age, these lenses become more rigid causing some tissue to break which leads to increased opacity in some areas.
The more breaks and accumulation of tissue that occurs, the more opacity there will be in the lens.
Cataracts due to injury and/or surgery
Previous eye injury or surgery can cause cataracts. The accumulation of damaged tissue can develop into cataracts, even in young people.
To a lesser extent, cataracts can be caused by diseases like diabetes or the prolonged use of certain medications.
Risk factors for cataracts
Certain lifestyle habits and other factors increase the risk of suffering from cataracts.
- Aging. One of the most common factors
- Arterial hypertension, or high blood pressure
- Injuries and blows to the eye and previous eye surgeries
- High exposure to the sun
- Habitual, excessive consumption of alcohol
- Long-term corticosteroid treatments
Types of cataracts
- Nuclear or senile cataracts
The area affected with a lack of transparency is the central part of the lens. At the onset of the condition, it can cause nearsightedness or an improvement in near vision, gradually the lens will gradually become more yellowish and opacity will increase. Sometimes, this change in the color of the lens makes it more difficult to differentiate similar colors or shades.
- Cortical cataracts
With this type of cataract, opacities starts on the outer edge of the lens, and little by little advance inwards. As they cover a larger surface of the lens, the greater the difficulty for light to pass through and for correct vision to occur.
- Congenital cataracts
Congenital cataracts manifest at birth or during childhood, and may be linked to genetic causes, infections sustained during pregnancy or trauma, galactosemia, Type 2 neurofibromatosis, or even rubella, or German measles. Depending on their location and size, this type of cataract may not affect vision.
- Posterior subcapsular cataracts
This type of cataracts evolves faster. They occur when an opaque area appears at the back of the lens. It causes the perception of images to be less bright, reading more difficult and the appearance of halos around lights, especially at night.
Prevention of eye cataracts
Prevention of the appearance of cataracts is closely linked to the reduction of certain risk factors. Reducing alcohol consumption, stopping smoking, controlling diabetes and high blood pressure can delay the appearance of cataracts. Eating a balanced diet, where vegetables and fruit are a main part, will help your general and visual health.
Protect your eyes from the sun wearing sunglasses with high quality lenses that comply with the strictest regulations, particularly those that provide protection from UVB rays.
In addition to these tips, it is important that if cataracts appear they are detected quickly. So, it is recommended that every year you consult an ophthalmologist who will check your visual health to detect changes and/or variations.
These checks will also detect any other visual health problem.
The most effective treatment for ocular cataracts is surgery. It is a simple procedure, which is performed regularly with a high percentage of efficacy and recovery of visual acuity.
In general, cataract surgery involves the removal of the damaged lens and its replacement with an intraocular lens.
It is a painless procedure with a simple recovery period. The procedure does not require hospital admission and, it is a straightforward outpatient procedure.
The surgery is performed with local anesthesia - it is not necessary to put the patient to sleep, they will remain fully conscious and will perceive light and movement during the surgery. The procedure is carried out with precision instruments which minimize the need for stitches or similar.
After discharge, a series of measures will be recommended to help recovery. Eye drops, protective sunglasses and avoiding the operated eye coming into contact with water, soap or other products.
Cataract surgery is a common procedure that helps the patient to recover quality of life, with a minimally aggressive intervention and a very rapid recovery.