Cataracts – symptoms and causes

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Studies show that cataracts are the most common eye disease in the world. Fortunately, advances in medicine have made it a reversible disease

What is a cataract?

A cataract, otherwise known as a cataract, occurs when the lens of the eye loses its transparency, or becomes cloudy. This causes an obstruction in the transmission of light, thus impairing vision.

Cataracts can be a congenital or acquired disease. However, it most often appears in people over the age of 50. Interestingly, full cataract prevention is not entirely possible – the clouding of the eye lens is a natural aging process. However, modern medicine can fight it and treat cataracts.

What are the causes of cataracts?

The main cause of cataract formation is the already mentioned clouding of the eye lens. It can be caused, for example, by an unhealthy, fatty diet, smoking or any trauma to the eyeball. The formation of cataracts may also have a genetic predisposition.

It is important to remember that cataracts can occur in any of us – even though people aged 50+ are most at risk. So-called congenital cataracts can be diagnosed as early as in newborns – the cause may be inappropriate medications that the pregnant woman is taking. A cataract in an infant may also appear if the mother has undergone, for example, rubella during pregnancy.

Types of cataracts

In addition to the previously mentioned congenital cataract, we can also distinguish secondary cataracts, which develop after surgical removal of the cataract. It is simply re-clouding of the back lens capsule of the eye. However, the most popular type of cataract is senile cataract – it occurs in people over 65 years old.

Cataracts can also be divided according to the location of the opacity. Thus, for example, one may be diagnosed with a color cataract, which affects the rim of the lens, or a nuclear cataract, which is located in the center of the lens. Subcorneal-tubular cataract, on the other hand, occupies the entire back part of the lens.

What are the symptoms of cataract?

The main symptoms that should draw our attention are: deterioration of vision quality and sharpness. This deterioration may be manifested by difficulty in judging distance, increased sensitivity to light or difficulty in seeing in the dark (for example, at night). Situations that should also draw our attention are those in which we have to change glasses too often or when colors that we see seem to be foggy. In such situations it is worth consulting an ophthalmologist as soon as possible

Can cataracts be cured?

The answer to this question is simple – yes. However, the only way to cure cataract is surgery. This is a non-invasive, immediate procedure that involves removing the cloudy lens. The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes, and the patient is awake and completely conscious.

What does the cataract removal procedure look like?

The lens that is cloudy is removed by the doctor using the phacoemulsification method – it is crushed by ultrasound. Then the doctor makes a micro-incision and suctions it out. the “broken” lens is replaced with an artificial lens. Sound like something out of a science fiction movie? Then read on..

The new lens may come with UV filters! It may also correct already existing eye defects. It is worth knowing that the decision about cataract surgery is made by the patient in consultation with an ophthalmologist – there is no need to wait until the disease is fully mature as it was a dozen or so years ago

Cataract removal surgery is reimbursed by the National Health Fund – the big disadvantage here, however, is the waiting time for the surgery. Cataract removal in private facilities is quite an expensive investment. The cost of the procedure ranges from 3 to even 9 thousand PLN

Main photo: Anthony Shkraba/pexels.com

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