The Truth About Cataracts

Cataracts, usually developed late in life, are cloudy or opaque areas in the lens of the eye. Normally, the eye is clear with no distortions, but when the lends clouds up, it is a condition known as cataracts. They are usually developed with advancing age and occasionally run in family genetic structures. There are some factors that might accelerate the development of cataracts, such as smoking or exposure to toxic substances, but most develop after a severe eye injury.

Sometimes, cataracts are present at birth, or develop soon after. These occurrences are called congenital cataracts, and are typically inherited. Since the gene for cataracts is dominant, the gene will inspire the condition even if only one parent passes it down. It is theorized that at least 50% of children with parents who carry the gene will be affected.

In some instances, congenital cataracts can be caused by infections that affect the mother during pregnancy, such as rubella or metabolic diseases.

Cataracts usually develop painlessly, and as the cataracts grow, vision will slowly begin to diminish. At first, the patient will begin to have difficulty seeing at night, even when glasses or corrective lenses. Eventually, he or she might see “halos” around harsh lights and become sensitive to strong lights or the glares from window panes.

Eventually, the patient will probably have trouble seeing in daylight, as well.

There are three categories defining adult categories: immature, mature and hypermature. A lens remains clear in some areas is an immature cataract, while a mature cataract will be entirely opaque. A hypermature cataract, on the other hand, is the result of a liquefied lens surface that leaks through the membrane and can cause inflammation in the eye.

Cataracts rarely even begin to develop before the age of sixty, and hypermature cataracts affect only .5% of the population before age seventy.

The development of cataracts may be accelerated due to certain potential factors, including diabetes, kidney disease, low serum calcium levels and some metabolic disorders. Radiation exposure and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light might also assist in moving the condition forward more quickly than normal.

A patient who is beginning to develop cataracts will experience some or all of the following symptoms:

– loss of color intensity
– bright circles, or “halos”, around lights
– sensitivity to glare
– inability to differentiate between color contrasts
– impaired night vision
– cloudy or filmy vision
– double vision in one or both eyes

In order to diagnose cataracts, a doctor will only need to perform a standard ophthalmic exam, including the slit lamp examination. After that, ultrasonography will be performed if cataract surgery is recommended or desired.

Cataract surgery is rarely considered unless the patient’s ability to participate in normal daily activities is inhibited. This occurs in approximately 40% of those affected by cataracts. It is often beneficial to first try changing eyeglass prescriptions, increasing the strength of bifocals, or using a magnifying glass while reading. If the cataract is not painful or bothersome, then surgery might be too intense an option.

When cataract surgery is performed, the lens of the eye is removed entirely and replaced with an artificial lens. Cataract surgery is not a long operation, and it can usually be undertaken as an outpatient. If complications arise, the patient will need to stay overnight for observation and further treatment.

Cataracts are often developed with the company of such disorders as macular degeneration. If other problems exist, vision will not be improved 100% after cataract surgery. In fact, the surgery might not be helpful at all, but an ophthalmologist can give you realistic odds on the success of the surgery.

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