Cataracts

Ophthalmology: Conditions & Procedures

Cataracts

Cataracts are the leading cause of visual loss. They form in the natural lens of the eye behind the iris and pupil. The lens acts like a camera in the eye. It focuses light onto the retina. The lens is made up of water and protein. When the protein clumps together as a part of the ageing process, areas of cloudiness develop in the lens. As the process evolves the areas of cloudiness increase in size and the cataract enlarges. This causes a reduction in vision and may also cause glare either during the day or night.

Types of Cataracts

Nuclear sclerosis forms in the centre of the lens. This may initially improve a patient’s near vision, which is known as “second sight”.

Cortical cataracts form in the periphery in a spoke like manner.

Posterior subcapsular cataracts form on the back surface of the lens.

Risk Factors

  • Advancing age Family history
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Ultraviolet radiation
  • Medications: Statins, Corticosteroids, Hormone replacement therapy
  • Alcahol in large quantities
  • Previous eye inflammation or trauma
  • Previous eye surgery
  • High myopia

Preventing Cataracts

Oxidative stress from poor lifestyle has been associated with the development of cataract. Therefore foods high in antioxidants may prevent the development of cataracts.

  • Omega 3 fatty acids – found in oily fish
  • Leutin and Xeaxanthin – caretinoids are found in orange vegetables and leafy green vegetables
  • Vitamin E – found in green leafy vegetables and seeds
  • Vitamin C

Sunglasses that block out 100% of UV rays are also advisable.

Cataract Treatment

When your vision deteriorates to a point that it interferes with your daily activities, surgery is advised. Prior to this, spectacles, magnifiers and improved lighting may be used.

Cataract surgery is considered a minor procedure and is the most common elective procedure. It involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with a plastic intraocular lens (IOL). There are a variety of lenses available on the market that correct not only distance vision, but both distance and near vision. In addition lenses that correct astigmatism are popular too.

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