As of 2020, 50-80% of the bilaterally blind people in India developed their condition due to Cataract.
With increasing age, our body ends up developing many ailments. Cataract is one of the most well-known age-related diseases. If you were to Google Cataract disease, you would find a basic description describing it as clouding of the eye lens. But is a blurred vision the only symptom caused by this disease?
This article talks about various aspects of cataract disease and answers questions about the condition. It offers insights into recognizing, managing, and treating cataracts. It is a complete guide providing valuable information for those seeking to better understand this eye disease. It also talks about effective management and treatment options.
What is a Cataract?
Cataract’s meaning can be explained in very simple terms. It is just the blurring of vision caused by the formation of cloudy areas on the eye lens. It is a direct result of aging. With age, the protein in the eye lens breaks down and forms cloudy patches that interfere with normal vision.
In the beginning, the affected individual may not even notice a change in the vision. The effect is minimal. However, the condition worsens with time, causing significant loss of vision. This is the stage where patients require healthcare experts to look into the condition and treat it.
Though most people stereotype cataracts to be only related to age, there are also other types of the disease. Let us learn about some of them below:
Eye injuries may lead to the development of cataracts.
Cataracts in babies may be a result of family history, certain injuries, or even underlying diseases.
This Cataract develops on the membrane covering your eye lens instead of the lens itself.
As the name suggests, with age, our eye lens develops cataracts as a result of the breakdown of constituting proteins. Age-related Cataract has further types, categorized based on the part of the lens in which the Cataract develops.
Notable Cataract Symptoms
Cataract Symptoms are significant and easily detectable. They can interfere with the day-to-day functioning of the patient. The tell-tale signs may be as follows-
Vision may begin to seem foggy. Similar to viewing the world through a dirty lens.
Colours may appear faded.
May need a brighter light to read.
Bright lights, including headlights, lamps, and sunlight, may be hard to look at due to increased sensitivity.
May experience glare when looking at lights.
Worsening of near-sightedness
May experience double vision
Night Vision may be hampered.
These symptoms may progressively worsen over time. If you begin to notice any of the signs from the list above or certain other changes in your vision, it is advised to see a doctor soon. The faster the disease is addressed, the better.
Causes & Risk Factors for Cataract
Depending on the various types of cataracts we discussed earlier in this article, the causes of the disease may differ.
For example, In the case of a traumatic Cataract, the cause is a certain kind of trauma or injury to the eye. The condition may become complicated to treat. This is because of the accompanying damage from the surrounding tissues from the injury. Paediatric Cataract usually results from genetic history or is a result of some underlying disease.
In a nutshell, the primary cause of developing cataract disease is the breakdown of proteins present in our eye lens.
Several factors may put you at risk of developing the disease. These factors include:
A family history of cataracts can increase your probability of developing them. Your eye lens may be more vulnerable to environmental contributors than in general.
Environmental contributors can include a lot of things. Poor lifestyle habits can lead to many diseases, which may lead to cataracts. Harmful substances in the environment are also a huge factor.
Certain surgeries or underlying conditions may increase the chances of a person developing cataract disease.
Diagnosis, Treatment & Management
Doctors diagnose Cataracts using thorough medical examinations. These tests study the eye for all visible signs of the disease and map the severity. The healthcare professionals also look into the medical history of the patient and inquire about the extent of loss of vision.
Following a cataract diagnosis, the recommended course of action is cataract surgery. It is the sole effective means of alleviating this vision-affecting condition. During this surgical procedure, the doctor eliminates the clouded or damaged natural lens within the eye. An artificial lens replaces the natural lens. This lens replacement surgery is a highly successful and routine medical intervention. It offers patients renewed visual clarity and an improved quality of life. Cataract surgery is a well-established and safe method for restoring clear and healthy vision.
The cataract surgery cost is not a lot in India. The common man can easily afford the treatment.
The silver lining is that this surgery can correct your refractive errors. This means you will be able to see better without your corrective glasses.
The tricky and most important part is the recovery from the prescribed surgery. After any surgical procedure, the patient is advised to practice certain precautions. The affected person may experience mild pain and discomfort. The recovery is expected to be completed within 4 to 8 weeks.
There’s no better way to cure something than prevention. Medical science has developed an effective cure for cataracts. The cataract treatment cost is accessible and affordable. But this doesn’t mean that the disease should be taken lightly. We must take certain measures to prevent the development of eye diseases. It is advised to get regular eye checkups, practice efficient measures to protect eyes from the sun, and also practice healthy lifestyle habits.
Since Cataract disease is a consequence of age, there can’t be a lot done to prevent its development. But taking good care of your eyes can be a great way to do our part.
The Author : Dr. Sunil Khattri
Dr. Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.