Cataract is an eye disease which is mainly age related. As we age, the lens of the eye becomes clouded, blocking light from coming in, resulting in blurry vision and, ultimately, blindness. Cataract symptoms are distinctive and are mostly encountered in elderly patients. However, not only adults can develop cataract. The disease can also affect children, whether from birth or during the first years of life.
Causes and types of cataract
When the tissue of the eye is damaged, cataract can settle in and affect the lens of the eye, which can be found behind the iris. You can inherit certain genetic disorders, which makes you more liable to develop cataract. The disorder can also appear as a cause of another disease like eye surgery, steroid medication or diabetes. Cataracts can fall under four different categories:
- Age related cataract develops as an individual grows old;
- Congenital cataract can be present at birth or can appear during childhood.
- Secondary cataract appears as a consequence of other medical issues, drug abuse or exposure to radiation.
- Traumatic cataract can settle in after the eye has been injured.
Regardless of the type of cataract, patients experience similar early symptoms. These build up slowly as they gradually begin to block light and impair vision. The following signs could point towards cataract or other eye diseases:
- Clouded, dim or filmy vision;
- Faded colors or wrong perception of certain colors;
- Light sensitivity, with halos around bright lights;
- Impaired night vision;
- Double or multiple images in a single eye;
- Sudden and frequent variations in eyeglass prescription;
Researchers are not sure how our lifestyle and dietary choices can work towards preventing cataract. However, there are some steps you can take in order to protect your eyes and eyesight:
- Wear polarized sunglasses that will protect you against UV rays;
- Wear a hat with a large brim, especially during summer time or at the sea side;
- Give up smoking, which can weaken your eyesight and help cataract settle in earlier;
- Choose a healthy, balanced diet, incorporating leafy vegetables and super foods packed with antioxidants in your meals;
- People who are over 60 years old should undergo detailed eye exams once a year.
Primarily associated with old age, cataract can settle in even earlier, when people are around 40 years old. While there are not many ways to prevent it, technology is constantly improving, allowing us to discover new ways to keep cataracts under control. Besides wearing eyeglasses or using a magnifying glass, the most efficient way to cure it is surgery. This involves removing the foggy lens, substituting it with an artificial one. Surgery is not always the doctors’ first choice. As long as cataracts don’t interfere with the daily activities of the patients, they don’t have to go under the knife. However, surgical removal of the cataract is essential when it’s a hindrance in diagnosing or treating other eye problems.
There are many ongoing studies that are trying to pinpoint the factors that lead to cataracts, exploring other preventive steps we could take to keep cataracts at bay. While it’s not one of the most dangerous eye problems out there, it’s important to pay attention to cataract symptoms, since the disease can severely impair patients’ eyesight and ultimately interfere with their lives.
For more information about eye health, check out All You Need to Know about Eye Health.