Cataract - Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, Treatment
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As one age, the eyesight becomes more vulnerable to various eye conditions that can impair vision. One such condition is cataract. It is one of the common eye problems that affects millions across the globe. A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, leading to blurred vision and decreased eyesight. Although it is a treatable condition, it can significantly impact one's daily life if not treated on time.
This article will provide an in-depth understanding of cataract - from its symptoms and causes to its diagnosis and treatment options. This article will also discuss the preventative measures that one can take to reduce the risk of developing cataract. So, read on to learn more about this condition and how to manage it effectively.
Cataract (Clouded Lens)
Blurry or hazy vision, Sensitivity to light, Double vision, Faded vision
Age, Eye trauma, Genetics, Smoking, Diabetes, Obesity, Exposure to UV rays
Visual acuity test, dilated eye examination, retinal examination, Tonometry
Ophthalmologist (eye specialist)
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What is Cataract?
Cataract is a disease of the eye that occurs when there is clouding in the eye's natural lens. It develops slowly and causes vision to become blurry or hazy, interfering with daily activities such as reading and driving.
Cataract usually develop due to the natural aging process of the eye. The eye's lens is made up of proteins arranged in a specific way to keep it clear and allow light to pass through. As we age, these proteins may clump together and form cloudy areas on the lens. It is common in older adults and can be treated with cataract surgery.
There are different types of cataract, each affecting a specific part of the eye's lens. The most common types include:
Nuclear Cataract: This type affects the centre of the lens and is often associated with ageing. It causes gradual vision loss and can make it difficult to see objects up close.
Cortical Cataract: This cataract forms in the lens's outer edges and gradually works its way inward. They may cause glare or halo effects around lights, making it challenging to drive at night.
Posterior Subcapsular Cataract: This type of cataract forms at the back of the lens, just beneath the lens capsule. It usually develops more rapidly and can cause problems reading small print or seeing clearly in bright light. People with diabetes or who take certain medications, such as steroids, may be at a higher risk of developing this type of cataract.
Congenital Cataract: Congenital cataract are present at birth or develop during infancy. Genetic factors, infections during pregnancy, or certain medical conditions can cause them. Prompt detection and treatment of congenital cataract are essential to prevent long-term vision problems in children.
Senile Cataract Stages
Senile cataracts progress through distinct stages, each marked by specific changes in vision and lens opacity. Understanding these stages of senile cataract can shed light on the evolving nature of this age-related eye condition.
Initial Stage: In this earliest phase, lens clouding is minimal, causing negligible vision disruption. Patients might not even notice symptoms, attributing minor changes in eyesight to age or other factors.
Immature Cataract: As clouding intensifies, vision becomes noticeably blurry. Increased sensitivity to glare, particularly in bright light, is common. Night vision may also be compromised, making driving or low-light activities more challenging.
Mature Cataract: In this advanced stage, the lens is significantly clouded, leading to more pronounced visual impairment. Patients experience substantial difficulties with tasks requiring clear vision, such as reading or recognizing faces.
Hypermature Cataract: The lens may further change in this stage, with the potential for shrinkage or leaking of proteins. These changes can lead to complications like inflammation or elevated intraocular pressure, potentially causing discomfort and adding complexity to treatment decisions.
The symptoms of cataract can vary from person to person and also may develop slowly over time. Some common cataract symptoms include:
Blurry or Hazy Vision: Objects may appear blurred or less sharp, making it difficult to read, watch television, or recognize faces.
Sensitivity to Light: Individuals with cataract often become more sensitive to bright lights and glare, making driving at night particularly challenging.
Difficulty Seeing in Low Light: cataract can make it harder to see in dimly lit environments, such as movie theatres or restaurants.
Colours Appear Faded: As the cataract progresses, colours may seem less vibrant or have a yellowish tinge.
Double Vision: cataract can cause double vision in one eye, leading to overlapping images.
Frequent Changes in Eyeglass Prescription: As the cataract develops, the prescription for glasses may need to be adjusted more frequently.
It's important to note that these symptoms can also indicate other eye conditions or vision problems, so it is essential to consult an eye care professional for a proper diagnosis. While cataract are often associated with older age, remember that they can develop at any stage of life.
cataract can develop due to a variety of factors. The most common cause is simply ageing. As one ages, the proteins in the eye's lens can start to break down and clump together, forming cloudy areas that hinder clear vision.
Cataract Risk Factors
Several risk factors contribute to the development of cataract. These can mainly be classified under three broad categories - genetic, medical and environmental.
Genetic Factor: Some people may be more genetically predisposed to developing cataract if this condition runs in their family.
Medical Factors: The medical factors that increase the risk of cataract in the individuals include.
Diabetes: People with diabetes are more prone to developing cataract due to changes in their blood sugar levels that can affect the eye's lens.
Obesity: Being overweight or obese has been associated with a higher risk of developing cataract.
Use of Certain Medications: Long-term use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids or statins, has been associated with an increased risk of cataract development.
Trauma: Eye injuries or trauma can damage the lens and contribute to the development of cataract.
Environmental Factors: These are the risk factors that an individual comes in contact in day to day routine. These include
Smoking and Alcohol Consumption: Both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption have been linked to an increased risk of cataract.
Exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation: Prolonged and unprotected exposure to UV radiation from sunlight or artificial sources, such as tanning beds, can accelerate the formation of cataract.
Some individuals may develop cataract due to a combination of these factors, while others may have no identifiable cause. It is important to understand that prevention measures can help mitigate the risk of developing cataract, especially for those who may be at a higher risk.
Prevention of Cataract
Prevention of cataract is an essential aspect of maintaining healthy vision. While certain risk factors like genetics and age cannot be controlled, there are steps individuals can take to minimize their chances of developing cataract.
Wear Sunglasses: Wearing sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection can help shield your eyes from harmful UV radiation. This is particularly important when you are in direct sunlight for extended periods, such as during outdoor activities or when exposed to reflective surfaces like water or snow.
Protect Your Eyes from Injuries: It is crucial to prioritize eye safety by wearing protective eyewear such as goggles or safety glasses when there is a potential for eye injury, such as during sports activities or specific occupations.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Adopting a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of developing cataract. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provides essential nutrients supporting eye health. Additionally, regular exercise can help manage weight and improve overall well-being.
Manage Chronic Conditions: Properly managing chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension is crucial in preventing cataract. Keeping these conditions under control through medication, lifestyle changes, and regular check-ups can help protect your eyes.
Regular Eye Exams: By scheduling routine visits with an ophthalmologist, potential cataract can be identified and treated early, preserving the vision for as long as possible.
Quit Smoking: By quitting smoking or never starting in the first place, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing cataract and a range of other health problems.
Limit Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of developing cataract. It is important to drink alcohol in moderation and limit your intake to reduce the potential harm to your eyes.
How is Cataract Diagnosed?
Cataract diagnosis primarily involves a comprehensive eye examination performed by an ophthalmologist. During the exam, the doctor will evaluate your overall eye health, assess your vision clarity, and check for signs of cataract. This may include conducting various tests, such as
Visual Acuity Tests: During this test, the patient is asked to read letters or numbers from a chart placed at a distance. The doctor will measure the patient's ability to see and determine if there is any decline in visual acuity.
Slit-lamp Examination: This examination allows the doctor to examine the eyes under high magnification. This instrument provides a detailed view of the various structures of your eye, including the lens. By using a narrow beam of light, the doctor can identify any cloudiness or abnormalities in the lens which are indicative of cataract formation.
Dilated Eye Examination: The ophthalmologist will administer eye drops to dilate the pupils during this procedure. This allows for a better view of the lens and other structures inside the eye.
Retinal Exam: The doctor may also perform a retinal exam to assess the retina's health, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This can help determine if any other factors contribute to vision problems.
Tonometry: This test measures the pressure inside your eyes, which is important in assessing your overall eye health. High pressures can indicate the presence of certain eye conditions, such as glaucoma, which may coexist with cataract.
Once a cataract diagnosis is confirmed, the ophthalmologist will discuss treatment options and recommendations based on the severity of the condition. Sometimes, the cataract may not require immediate intervention and can be monitored over time. However, if cataract significantly affect the vision or quality of life, the eye doctor may suggest the patient to undergo eye surgery.
How to Prepare for a Doctor's Consultation?
Preparing for a doctor's consultation for a cataract is important to ensure one makes the most of the visit. Here are a few steps you can take to prepare:
Make a List of the Symptoms: One should note any vision changes or difficulties experienced, such as blurry vision or sensitivity to light. This will help the doctor understand the condition better.
Gather Relevant Information: Bring any medical records or previous test results related to the eyes that the patient may have. This will provide valuable information for the doctor during the consultation.
Prepare a List of Questions: One must jot down any questions or concerns that he/she have about cataract, such as the different treatment options available, the risks and benefits of surgery, and the expected recovery time. This will help them address any uncertainties they may have during the consultation.
Bring a Supportive Person: It can be helpful to have a trusted family member or friend accompany the patient to the consultation. They can provide emotional support and help remember important information discussed during the appointment.
Listen Carefully: The patient must pay close attention to what the doctor says during the consultation. Take notes if necessary to ensure that he/she fully understands the information provided. Don't hesitate to ask for clarification if something is unclear.
Cataract treatment is a medical intervention aimed at addressing the clouding of the eye's natural lens, which is known as a cataract. It primarily involves surgical procedures that remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL), restoring clear vision.
Surgical cataract procedure can be performed using one of the below methods.
Phacoemulsification (Phaco): This is the most common technique for cataract surgery. It involves creating a tiny incision in the eye and using ultrasound waves to break up the cataract, which is then removed through suction. An IOL is then implanted.
Extracapsular Cataract Extraction (ECCE): In this traditional technique, a larger incision is made to remove the cataract in one piece. An IOL is also inserted.
Laser Cataract Surgery: Laser cataract surgery also known as femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery is a cutting-edge and advanced technique which involves the use of a specialised laser to perform certain steps of the cataract removal process.
Cost of the Cataract Treatment
Cataract treatment cost in India is generally determined by several factors including the lens type (monofocal, multifocal, toric lens), type of technique undertaken, expertise of the eye specialist, type and location of the healthcare facility, insurance coverage and much more.
To know the exact cost of the cataract treatment cost in India, one must consult an eye specialist or the below mentioned table provides a approximate cost of the cataract treatment and lens cost in India.
Estimated Cost Range
₹ 20,000 to ₹ 60,000
Extracapsular Cataract Extraction
₹ 50,000 to ₹ 70,000
Femto-second Laser Surgery
₹ 80,000 to ₹ 1,30,000
During cataract treatment, the natural lens is replaced with the artificial lens (intraocular lens - IOL). This artificial lens is designed to mimic the function of the natural lens. It is made up of several materials such as silicone, acrylic, and other polymers, and are available in different shapes and sizes to accommodate the needs of individual patients.
Below table provides an approximate cost of the cataract lens that are available in India.
Estimated Cost Range
₹ 20,000 to ₹ 40,000
₹ 45,000 to ₹ 70,000
₹ 50,000 to ₹ 1,10,000
Risks and Complications of Cataract
Delaying cataract treatment can have various risks and implications. As the cataract progresses, it can lead to further vision impairment and an overall decline in visual quality. This may impact daily activities such as driving, reading, or even recognizing faces. Additionally, untreated cataract can increase the risk of accidents and falls due to poor depth perception and reduced clarity.
Furthermore, cataract can cause a condition called "second sight," where nearsighted individuals temporarily regain clear vision but experience difficulty seeing objects at a distance. Delaying treatment prolongs this inconvenience and hampers normal visual functioning.
When to Consult a Doctor?
If an individual is experiencing a blurry or cloudy vision that affects his/her daily activities, difficulty seeing at night or in low light, sensitivity to glare or bright lights, colours appearing faded or yellowed, or halos around lights or double vision. In that case, it is advisable to consult an eye specialist for cataract.
Diet for Cataract
A healthy diet is crucial in maintaining good eye health and reducing the risk of cataract.
Including foods that are high in antioxidants, such as berries and leafy greens, can help protect the eyes from oxidative stress.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts have also been associated with a lower risk of developing age-related cataract.
Additionally, consuming foods rich in vitamins C and E, like citrus fruits and almonds, can further protect against cataract.
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water also benefits overall eye health.
On the other hand, it's important to limit processed and sugary foods, as they may contribute to the development of cataract.
It's always a good idea to consult a doctor or nutritionist for personalised dietary recommendations.
In conclusion, cataract are a common eye condition affecting people of all ages, not just the elderly. While certain factors like genetics or previous eye injuries can contribute to their development in younger individuals, cataract are most commonly seen in older adults.
Recognizing the common signs and symptoms, such as blurry vision, sensitivity to light, and difficulty seeing at night, can prompt timely medical intervention. Regular eye check-ups and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also help reduce the risk of developing cataract. If diagnosed with cataract, timely treatment options, such as surgery, can help restore vision and improve quality of life.
If you or your loved one has any further doubts regarding any eye-related issues, do not hesitate to contact the HexaHealth experts. HexaHeatlh is your one-stop solution for all your healthcare need. So why wait?? Contact us TODAY!
FAQs for Cataract
What is cataract?
Cataract form in the eye when the natural lens becomes clouded, affecting vision. They develop due to ageing, injury, genetics, or other medical conditions. The clumping of proteins in the lens leads to their formation. Surgery is often required to remove and replace the cloudy lens with an artificial one.
What are the signs and symptoms of cataract?
Some of the most common symptoms of cataract include blurred or cloudy vision, faded or yellowed colours, difficulty seeing at night or in low light, and seeing halos around lights or double vision.
What is senile cataract?
A senile cataract, commonly referred to as age-related cataract, is a progressive eye condition characterised by the clouding of the natural lens within the eye. This gradual opacification of the lens is primarily associated with the ageing process, hence the term "senile." Senile cataract are a natural part of ageing and a leading cause of visual impairment among older adults.
What is the difference between mature vs immature cataract?
Mature cataract are advanced, fully clouded lenses that significantly impair vision. Immature cataract are in their early stages, causing less visual disruption. Immature cataract often exhibit less dense opacification, allowing some light to pass through, while mature cataract cause near-total obstruction, resulting in severe visual impairment.
Is cataract a disease?
Cataract is not a disease but a natural age-related process in the eye's lens. Proteins in the lens can clump together over time, leading to clouding and reduced vision. This condition is common among older individuals and is a treatable cause of visual impairment.
What are the main causes of cataract?
The main causes of cataract include ageing, genetics, diabetes, smoking, excessive UV light exposure, certain medications, and eye injury or trauma.
What is acquired cataract?
An acquired cataract refers to a clouding of the eye's natural lens that develops due to factors beyond ageing. These causes can include trauma, certain medications, prolonged exposure to UV radiation, systemic diseases like diabetes, or eye conditions such as uveitis. Unlike age-related cataract, acquired cataract are a result of external influences.
What is the eyelash reflex in cataract?
The eyelash reflex in cataract, also known as the "glare test," involves observing a patient's response to bright light. In individuals with cataract, this reflex might be exaggerated due to light scattering caused by the clouded lens. This can lead to increased glare, discomfort, and reduced visual clarity, indicating the presence of cataract.
What are the stages of senile cataract?
Senile cataract progress through different stages:
Initial Stage: Minimal impact on vision, often unnoticed.
Immature Cataract: Gradual blurring of vision, increased glare sensitivity.
Mature Cataract: Severe vision impairment due to lens clouding.
Hypermature Cataract: Lens may shrink, causing inflammation or glaucoma.
The stages vary in symptom severity and impact on daily life.
How does visual acuity change in immature cataract?
In immature cataract, visual acuity gradually declines. Patients might experience increased glare sensitivity, difficulty seeing in low-light conditions, and blurred vision. These changes occur as the lens becomes cloudier, scattering light and leading to reduced clarity. Regular eye examinations are important to monitor these shifts and determine appropriate treatment.
What's the difference between mature and hypermature cataract?
In a mature cataract, the lens is clouded but still intact. In a hypermature cataract, the lens has become more opaque, and it might shrink and lead to complications like inflammation or glaucoma. Hypermature cataract tend to be more advanced, and surgical removal is often necessary to prevent potential complications.
Can cataract cause coloured halos?
Yes, cataract can cause coloured halos around lights, especially at night. The clouded lens scatters light entering the eye, leading to visual distortions like halos. This phenomenon can impact vision clarity and is a common symptom of cataract, indicating a need for evaluation and potential treatment.
How is cataract diagnosed?
A cataract diagnosis involves a comprehensive eye exam, including visual acuity testing, dilated eye exam, and tonometry. Grading based on vision impairment determines the severity of the cataract. Additional tests may be conducted to rule out other underlying eye conditions.
What are the treatment options for cataract?
The main treatment option for cataract is surgery, where the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one. Different types of intraocular lenses (IOLs) are available for cataract surgery, such as monofocal, multifocal, and toric lenses. Consult your eye doctor to find the best IOL for your lifestyle.
How much does cataract surgery cost in Noida?
The cataract surgery cost in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, typically starts from ₹ 20,000 and ranges up to ₹ 1,25,000, with an average cost being ₹ 72,500. This cost is influenced by the numerous factors including the insurance coverage, type of cataract surgery technique undertaken, type of the lens used, and many more.
What's the cost of cataract surgery at Apollo Hospital?
At Apollo hospital, the cataract surgery costs around ₹ 40,000 to ₹ 80,000. This cost will vary from location to location and also on various other parameters.
How much is the cataract surgery cost in Bhubaneswar?
The capital city of Odisha, Bhubaneswar has many eye care facilties which provide best in class eye care services including the cataract surgery. The cost of the cataract surgery in Bhubaneswar ranges between ₹ 20,000 to ₹ 1,00,000, which is generally determined by a number of factors.
What's the expense of cataract surgery in Delhi?
Delhi, the capital city of India has some of the world class healthcare facilities with reputed eye specialists who aim to provide quality eye care to the patients in need at afforable costs. Cataract surgery, being a common procedure performed in Delhi has a cost that ranges between ₹ 20,000 - ₹ 1,25,000. This cost is determined by several factors including the lens type, type of technique used, doctor’s expertise, insurance coverage, etc.
Who is Sameer Kaushal at Artemis?
Dr Sameer Kaushal is an ophthalmologist with over 22 years of experience who provide consultation for various eye related conditions. He sits at Artemis Hospital, Gurugram. He has expertise in treatment of eye disease especially corneal disorders. His expertise extends to the latest treatment modalities including sutureless corneal transplants and artificial corneas.
Can cataract be prevented or slowed down?
While complete prevention of cataract is not possible, some measures can be taken to reduce the risk. Protect your eyes from sunlight with sunglasses and a hat, quit smoking, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Regular eye exams can also detect cataract early for prompt treatment.
Which is the best hospital for cataract surgery in Noida?
The best hospital for cataract surgery in Noida, Uttar Pradesh is Tewari eye centre. This eye hospital has become the top eye hospital in North India because of experienced super-specialist doctors, sophisticated diagnostic technologies, and innovative ophthalmologic surgical equipment.
Which are the best hospitals for cataract surgery in Mumbai?
Mumbai, one of the metropolitan cities of India houses several reputed healthcare facilities which provide the best in class medical facilties including the cataract surgery, to patients in need.
Some of the best hospitals for cataract surgery in Mumbai include.
What are the myths versus facts about cataract?
Myth: Cataract only affect the elderly.
Fact: While cataract are most common in older adults, they can occur at any age. Certain factors like genetics or previous eye injuries can also contribute to the development of cataract in younger individuals.
Myth: Cataract can be cured with eye drops or medication.
Fact: Eye drops and medications cannot reverse or cure cataract. The only effective treatment for cataract is surgery to replace the cloudy lens with an artificial one.
Myth: Cataract surgery is risky and painful.
Fact: Cataract surgery is a safe and commonly performed procedure. It is typically done on an outpatient basis and is considered to be one of the safest surgeries in medicine. Most patients experience minimal discomfort during and after the procedure, with a quick recovery time.
Myth: Wearing glasses can prevent or slow down the progression of cataract.
Fact: While wearing glasses can help improve vision and manage symptoms associated with cataract, they cannot prevent or slow down the condition's progression. Surgery is the only effective treatment for cataract.
Myth: Cataract always lead to blindness.
Fact: Cataract can cause vision impairment, but they do not always result in complete blindness. With timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment, vision can be restored and cataract-related visual impairments can be significantly improved. It is important to address cataract early to prevent them from negatively impacting daily activities and quality of life.
Updated on : 20 September 2023
MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES
12 Years Experience
Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More
MSc. Clinical Research I PG Diploma in Public Health Services Management
3 Years Experience
His work in medical content writing and proofreading is noteworthy. He has also contributed immensely to public health research and has authored four scientific manuscripts in international journals. He was assoc...View More
Eye Care, Ophthalmology
23 Years Experience
NABH Accredited Hospitals
Excellence in General Surgery,E.N.T.,Obstetrics & Gynaecology
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