Just like a camera each eye has a lens that focuses light on to the retina so we can see. As long as the lens is clear there will be no problem. When the lens gets cloudy, vision becomes blurry, as though we are seeing through a fogged-up or frosty glass. This makes reading, driving and seeing difficult.
Cataracts develop slowly and with time as they progress they begin interfering with vision. Cataract surgery is the only remedy for cataract.
#1. Clouded or dim vision
One of the primary symptoms of cataract is that it creates a milky/cloudy fluid buildup in the lens region of the eye. This leads to impaired vision that gets aggravated over time as more and more fluid gets accumulated in the area. Eventually, your visual acuity deteriorates and can even lead to complete blindness.
#2. Increasing difficulty in vision especially at night
The lenses perform the essential function of letting in light for proper vision. At night, there’s reduced light, so the lenses have to let in more light to maintain a certain level of visual acuity. The cloudy fluid of cataract hinders this process and makes night vision especially difficult. If left untreated, this spread and worsens the condition even further.
#3. Light and glare sensitivity
The cataract fluid is not receptive to light and does not allow light to pass through it clearly. As a result, the lens is almost entirely blocked off. This amplifies the strain that the lens has to undergo to visualize things clearly. It also hampers the eye’s light sensitivity, rendering you unable to discern sights in high lighting and/or low light.
#4. Requiring brighter than usual light for clarity
Cataract, when left unchecked, is highly detrimental to that particular eye’s visual power. The fluid buildup accumulates over time, blocking light from reaching through the lens to the retina. Visualizing objects in dim to low lights becomes almost impossible for someone with significant cataract. This can be highly hazardous for cataract patients in many cases.
#5. Halos around lights
Since the milky fluid buildup is not receptive to external light in the slightest, it has an effect of creating “halos” around light sources when the affected eye directly glances upon them. Other than blurring vision to a certain degree around highly lighted environments, this does not pose any other inconvenience to the eye.
#6. Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription
A cataract is a volatile condition. This is because the fluid buildup in the eye that occurs as a symptom of cataract. The buildup is never static; it proliferates and spreads over the lens region gradually. Consequentially, your eyes also constantly have to adjust to this visual impairment. This can lead to fluctuations in eye power in erratic patterns.
#7. Difficulty in reading
Reading text off a page or from a screen is a process that requires a lot of precision movement and focuses in the eye. With the fluid buildup of cataract being present as an impediment to this process, reading even simple and large text places a great deal of strain on the eye, which can contribute to your existing eye power issues.
#8. Fading colours
Like most other cells in your eye, the cone cells that are responsible for colour vision rely on light stimulus to function properly. The cataract fluid blocks off the light from passing through the lens, and as this grows over time, your cone cells are hindered from their proper functioning. Due to the erratic and gradually deteriorating light input, your colour vision is also adversely affected.
#9. Double vision in one eye
In some cases, the buildup of fluid can develop to the point where it impairs your lens’ functioning by causing double vision. This is usually rare and only observed in severe cases. However, if it arises, it can cause extreme problems in performing even simple functions such as reading and walking.
How Cataract is Diagnosed?
A regular eye examination by an ophthalmologist is the only way to diagnose cataract. On dilation of the pupils, the lens and inner eye can be viewed for an accurate diagnosis.
What are the different types of cataracts?
- Age-related cataract: Most cataracts are related to ageing.
- Congenital cataract: Some babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes. These cataracts may not affect vision. If they do, they may need to be removed.
- Secondary cataract: Cataracts are more likely to develop in people who have certain other health problems, such as diabetes. Also, cataracts are sometimes linked to corticosteroid use.
- Traumatic cataract: Cataracts can develop soon after an eye injury, or years later.
Types of Cataract Surgery Lenses
#1. Monofocal Fixed Focus Intraocular Lenses
cataracts that were removed are replaced with an IOL that is positioned in the same place as the natural lens. The standard IOL is a monofocal lens that corrects distance vision. With this lens, you see well from a distance, but need glasses to read.
#2. Multifocal IOLs
Multifocal lenses provide distance and intermediate and/or reading vision.
#3. Toric IOLs
These fixed focus single-vision lenses help people with astigmatism see better for distance or for near vision than they would with a non-Toric single vision IOL.
#4. Accommodating Intraocular Lenses
Alternatives to standard monofocal lenses, these accommodating lenses provide distance and some near vision. An “accommodating” intraocular lens gives good distance vision and usable intermediate distance vision for a computer screen.
While curing cataract involves a surgical procedure, in principle, the procedure is actually quite simple. As established, cataract is a condition where the lenses become cloudy and impair vision. Therefore, the surgical procedure to cure cataract deals with removing the lenses and implanting what is known as an IOL (intraocular lens) into the eye, thereby clearing up the cataract effectively. Here’s a concise rundown of the procedure, for your understanding:
An ultrasound test will be performed a few weeks before the procedure, to ascertain the dimensions and shape of your eye lens. The second pre-surgery procedure is to determine the type of IOL that is to be implanted. The IOL will be selected based on your specific needs, along with any customization options such as UV light filtration.
You should be done with the entire surgical process within a few hours. The cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. After administering anaesthesia, the surgeon will commence your procedure. The lens is removed using an ultrasound probe to break it up, and an incision is performed subsequently to create an opening to install the IOL. The lens is thus implanted safely into your eye.
You may have to shield your eyes from light exposure after the surgery is complete. Your vision will usually take two days to be restored to normal. You might have to take eye drops to lessen the strain on your eyes.
Treatments for Cataract
Cataract surgery is the only way to permanently treat the ailment. However, in less severe cases of cataract, other treatment methods can be a viable option. You can opt for special corrective lenses that work just like regular contact lenses, to alleviate the vision impairment. These also accommodate your power requirements. If your cataract is not very severe, you can adjust your lifestyle accordingly, with eye drop to alleviate the strain.
Cataract Extraction Surgery
Surgical removal of a clouded lens is considered the best, most successful treatment for this condition. the femtosecond cataract laser which can be used just before surgery to soften the cataract and reduce astigmatism. The surgery is performed through a small opening at the front of the eye. The surgeon gently breaks up and vacuums out the clouded cataractous lens with high-frequency ultrasound. This lens is then replaced with a new artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL).