- 1 What is cataract?
- 2 What are the main causes of cataract?
- 3 What are the main symptoms of cataract?
- 4 How is cataract diagnosed?
- 5 Is cataract reversible?
- 6 Is cataract preventable?
- 7 Is cataract curable?
- 8 Is cataract treatable by medications?
- 9 Then how is cataract treated?
- 10 After surgery, can cataract return again?
- 11 Magrabi’s advice
Cataract is a very common eye problem, one of its main symptoms is weak eyesight and clouding of your vision. Many patients have many concerns about cataract, Magrabi will answer the top 10 frequently asked questions about cataract.
What is cataract?
Cataract is the opaqueness of the eye’s inner lens. Naturally, the light reflecting off an object passes through the cornea, then the lens focuses this light on the retina to create an image of the object, to be then processed by the brain.
The intraocular lens is made mainly of water and protein. The protein is transparent and allows light to pass through it clearly.
But in cataract, this protein clumps together and gradually clouds the lens making the image hazy. Patients with cataract describe it as “looking through a dirty window”.
What are the main causes of cataract?
Unfortunately, there is no confirmed cause for cataract, it is mainly attributed to ageing and its oxidative effect on the lens’ protein. But some researchers have identified the main risk factors that are associated with cataract or directly injure the lens.
These risk factors include:
- Exposure to Ultraviolet radiation without safety goggles.
- Uncontrolled Diabetes
- Severe Hypertension
- Unsupervised corticosteroid usage.
- Cholesterol-lowering medications.
- Eye injury or inflammation
- Eye surgery
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Severe myopia
- Family history of cataract
What are the main symptoms of cataract?
If you have one or more of these symptoms, you need to visit your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Cataract symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Clouded vision
- Dim vision
- Difficult night vision
- Extra sensitivity to light.
- If you see halos and rainbows around light sources.
- Seeing fade colors instead of vibrant ones.
- Double vision in one eye.
- Difficulty reading with frequent headaches.
- The need for bright light for reading and normal activities.
- If you wear glasses, you change your lens prescription every 3-6 months with no apparent reason.
- Appearance of cloudy white- greyish discoloration behind your pupil.
- Family history of cataract.
- History of eye trauma or eye surgery.
How is cataract diagnosed?
When you visit your ophthalmologist, explain your symptoms, when it began and how it is affecting our daily life. Your doctor will ask you more questions about your general health, your medical history, your family history.
If your doctor suspects you have cataract, he will confirm his diagnosis by doing any of the following:
- Visual acuity test: this test depends on using a special eye chart designed to measure your visual acuity each eye at a time. It is a good tool but it is not 100% diagnostic of cataract.
- Slit-lamp examination: the slit lamp is a device designed to examine all anterior eye structures with magnification. It gives a better look of your cornea, iris, lens and the spaces in-between. This test is diagnostic of cataract.
- Fundus examination or retinal examination: in this examination, you need special eyedrops to dilate your pupil, making it easier for your doctor to examine the structures behind the lens especially the retina. With the help of the slit-lamp, your doctor can combine both tests to 100% confirm the diagnosis of cataract and its type.
Is cataract reversible?
This question is very tricky, because certainly cataract is not reversible, but it is somehow preventable and it is definitely treatable!
Is cataract preventable?
There is no study that confirmed the ability of preventing or slowing down cataract progression. But many doctors believe if you avoid the risk factors then you significantly decrease your chances of having cataract. This includes:
- Regular check-up of your eyes: annual eye examination definitely helps detect early signs of several eye diseases making their management much easier.
- Quitting tobacco: smoking is a risk factor for many serious diseases, quit smoking now and decrease your chances of cataract, cardiac problems and cancer!
- Healthier lifestyle: if you eat healthy fresh food and exercise more regularly then you increase your daily dosage of antioxidants which keeps your eyes and body healthy.
- Wearing sunglasses: as UV rays is a risk factor for cataract then wearing the right sunglasses can block UV risk.
- Control Diabetes and/or Hypertension: if you suffer of diabetes or elevated blood pressure, controlling your blood glucose levels and blood pressure can help prevent them as a risk factor for cataract.
Is cataract curable?
Cataract itself is not curable, but it is treatable. How? When cataract symptoms start to appear, your doctor can help you overcome these symptoms with the help of eyeglasses, bifocals, magnification and increasing brightness of surroundings.
Is cataract treatable by medications?
NO! there is no FDA approved medication or eyedrops to treat cataract. Any pharmaceutical company or herbal therapist claims otherwise, then know it is a scam! In fact, it may hurt your eyes more than your eyes can benefit from them! Never use any medication/drops/ointments for your eyes without consulting your ophthalmologist first! This goes with any medication in general! Never use drugs without your doctor’s supervision!
Then how is cataract treated?
SURGERY! Whether traditional surgery or laser-assisted cataract surgery, surgery is the only method to treat cataract! How? Your eye surgeon creates a small incision near the cornea, emulsifies the hazy lens and extracts it. At this point, your vision clarity is highly improved but your acuity is diminished! So, doctors invented an artificial intraocular lens to replace the natural lens of the eye, restoring your eyesight completely!
After surgery, can cataract return again?
No, since the new intraocular lens is artificial in nature, it is not affected by the same risk factors of cataract. Keeping your vision accurate and clear forever! But if your lens capsule is affected (not the lens itself), you may need to revisit your doctor. And if your vision is less than 20/20 then your doctor will let you wear eyeglasses for reading or other daily activities.
Cataract is a very common eye problem; it affects your vision’s quality and acuity. It is like looking through a dirty window. Cataract is irreversible and unpreventable but you eliminate some of its risk factors by following a healthy lifestyle and visiting your doctor regularly. Its only treatment is surgery!