A cataract is the term used when there is a loss of transparency or increasing cloudiness in the lens of the eye. The change alters the way light is taken into the eyes and distorts the image they transmit to the visual center in the brain.
Cataracts are the most common cause of progressively blurry vision. People with cataracts may say they see “halos” around lights, or are bothered by glare or changes in light (such as when they move from bright daylight to a dim room).
Cataracts become more common as people age. In fact, everyone over 30 years of age has begun to develop cataracts. In people who develop visual problems or obvious eye cloudiness, the process has taken place at a much faster rate than normal.
Cataract development may be the result of exposure to ultraviolet light, radiation, or toxins in the environment. Certain diseases, such as diabetes, alter the chemistry of the eyes and make people more prone to cataracts.
Surgery, in which the lens of the eye is replaced with an artificial lens implant, is the only cure for a cataract. A person with a cataract will usually make the decision to have surgery once his or her visual loss has progressed to a point where reading is uncomfortable or performing daily activities is difficult.
Cataract surgery is a “day surgery” procedure, and doesn’t require general anesthesia. There are some eye care procedures to follow after the surgery, which include :
taking it easy for a few days
wearing a protective shield on the eye
using eye drops to prevent infection
Before surgery becomes necessary, an ophthalmologist may recommend one or more other measures to alleviate symptoms or difficulties caused by a cataract. For example, he or she may suggest:
- using special glasses or contact lenses
- wearing sunglasses in bright light
- altering the lighting and window coverings in the home to reduce glare
- using medications that help keep the pupil open
Your ophthalmologist will advise you on the best treatment measures for your eyes.