Cataracts in the eyes: symptoms, surgery & post-cataract laser treatment

What is cataract of the eyes and how can cataracts be treated? A cataract is a cloudy lens in the eye. Cataracts are also called ‘cataracts’. Cataracts are barely noticeable in the early stages, but as the cataract progresses, the incoming light becomes increasingly scattered and the person’s vision becomes less and less clear. The blurred image of cataract cannot be corrected with glasses. Age-related cataracts are the most common form of cataracts. Age-related cataracts are very common in people over the age of 65. The only treatment for cataracts is cataract surgery, called cataract surgery. The cloudy lens is replaced by a clear artificial lens.

  • What is cataract?
  • Cause of cataract
  • Symptoms of cataracts in the eyes
  • Treatment of cataracts
  • Operation
  • Nastaar
  • Prognosis
  • Prevention
  • Healthy food
  • Stop smoking
  • Wear sunglasses in bright sunlight
  • Drink no/moderate alcohol
  • Keep blood sugar levels under control

 

Cataract / Source: Rakesh Ahuja, MD, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

What is cataract?

Cataracts cause clouding of the lens of the eye. The lens of the eye is located directly behind the iris or iris and is visible in the pupillary opening. Light enters the eye through the pupil, the opening in the center of the iris, and reaches the retina through the lens, where a sharp image is formed. The lens is clear and transparent under normal circumstances, but as a person gets older this lens will become less clear. This will cause everything someone sees, both near and far, to become blurrier and grayer in color. Everyone who gets older has to deal with this, but not everyone really suffers from it.

Cause of cataract

In most cases, cataracts are the result of old age. The risk of developing cataracts is greatest around the age of 65. When cataracts are age-related, the cataracts will usually occur in both eyes. In addition to age-related cataracts, cataracts can also be congenital or caused by damage to the lens, for example as a result of an accident. Furthermore, the long-term use of certain medicines (for example Prednisone) or drugs can cause clouding of the eye lens. Cataracts can also occur as a result of diabetes.

Symptoms of cataracts in the eyes

The clouding of the lens that occurs with cataracts generally progresses very slowly and can take years before the person notices anything. At a certain point, the cataract has progressed so far that it seems as if one is looking through a foggy window or frosted glass (see photo at the top of the article). In addition to the blurrier image (both near and far), everything can appear grayer and less colorful. In the early stages of cataracts, it often happens that someone suddenly appears to see double in one eye. Someone with cataracts also often struggles with bright light to see clearly, and moderate light sources provide more comfortable vision.

Cataract surgery / Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons (PD)

Treatment of cataracts

Operation

Cataracts are easy to treat in the Netherlands. Cataract treatment is aimed at restoring vision. If someone has a lot of discomfort from the cataract, surgery is indicated. During cataract surgery, the inner, cloudy part of the lens is removed from the capsular bag using a kind of mini vacuum cleaner (phacoemulsification). A small plastic lens is then placed in this. After a few months the eye has healed and calmed down. Suitable glasses can then be fitted so that the person can see clearly again.

Nastaar

In a large proportion of people who have had cataract surgery, new opacity develops in the original lens bag. Small lens residues left behind may also have started to grow. This can gradually lead to visual acuity reduction. This phenomenon is called ‘after-gaze’. This can be removed painlessly using the YAG laser specially developed for this purpose. The laser treatment takes place on an outpatient basis and only takes five minutes.

Prognosis

Cataracts in adults have a progressive course that is both variable and difficult to predict. Without treatment, most patients with cataracts develop severe visual impairment.

Prevention

Cataracts cannot always be prevented, but you can reduce the risk of cataracts by taking the following measures:

Healthy food

Eating foods high in antioxidants such as vitamins C and E can help prevent cataracts. If you already have cataracts, this can slow the progression.

Quit smoking / Source: Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock.com

Stop smoking

If you smoke, stop smoking. Smoking is very bad for your eyes. Smoking is a risk factor for the development of cataracts. Smoking causes more free radicals in your eyes. These are very small, reactive molecules in your body that damage cells. Antioxidants are substances that protect you against free radicals and you get them from vegetables and fruit. But smoking actually kills the good substances. And it produces many toxins that can cause cataracts.

Wear sunglasses in bright sunlight

Sunglasses can also help reduce the risk of cataracts. Ultraviolet (UV) light can cause changes in your eyes. UV light can damage the proteins in your lens.

Drink no/moderate alcohol

There is some evidence that drinking too much alcohol can increase the risk of cataracts.

Keep blood sugar levels under control

If you have diabetes mellitus, you know how important it is to keep your blood sugar levels under control. This can also help prevent cataracts? That’s because diabetics are more likely to develop the eye condition than people who don’t have it. Your lens swells if your blood sugar level remains too high for too long. Your lens also changes blood sugar into sorbitol. When this substance accumulates in the lens, you see less sharply (blurred) and cataracts can develop.

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