Thursday, May 24, 2018

Cataracts

While a comprehensive eye examination can determine for certain if you have a cataract forming, there are a number of signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of a cataract.
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What is a cataract?
Simply put, a cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye. The lens is located just behind the iris, the colored part of your eye, and works like the lens of a camera. It picks up light and focuses it onto the retina, the transmitter located at the back of your eye that sends the images to your brain. If the lens is cloudy, the light rays are inhibited from reaching the retina and this results in hazy or blurred vision.
   
   
  Normal, clear lens Lens clouded with a cataract  
 
The human lens, made mostly of protein and water, can become clouded--so clouded it keeps light and images from reaching the retina. Eye injury, certain diseases, or even some medications can cause the clouding. But, in over 90% of cases, clouding is caused by the aging process.
 
A cataract can be the reason sharp images become blurred, or seeing things at night is more difficult. It may also be why the eyeglasses or contact lenses that used to help you read, or do other simple tasks, no longer seem to help.
 
What a cataract is not.
A cataract is not a "film" over the eye, and neither diet nor lasers will make it go away. The best way to treat a cataract is to remove the old, clouded lens and replace it with an intraocular lens (IOL).
What are the symptoms?
Many people over 60 have some cataract and the vast majority can be treated successfully. A thorough eye examination by your eye doctor can detect the presence and extent of a cataract. Below is a list of the most common symptoms.
  A blurring of your vision
  Glare, or light sensitivity
  Frequent eyeglass prescription changes
  Double vision in one eye
  Needing brighter light to read
  Poor vision at night
  Fading or yellowing of colors
What causes a cataract?
Cataracts can form at any age. The most common type of cataracts is age-related cataract. These develop as people get older. In younger people cataracts can result from conditions such as diabetes, certain medications and other longstanding eye problems. Cataracts can also be present at birth. These are called congenital cataracts.
 
Although researchers are learning more about cataracts, no one knows for sure what causes them. There may be several causes including smoking, excessive exposure to sunlight and poor diet. Sometimes cataracts are caused by other health problems such as diabetes.
 
Early Detection
A compact fiber-optic probe developed for the space program has has proven itself valuable as the first non-invasive early detection device for cataracts. The new device is based on a laser light technique called dynamic light scattering (DLS) and measures small protein changes in the lens of the eye. If subtle protein changes can be detected before a cataract develops, people may be able to reduce their cataract risk by making simple lifestyle changes, such as decreasing sun exposure, quitting smoking, stopping certain medications and controlling diabetes.
 
Routine Eye Examination
Adults over the age of 40 should schedule routine eye examinations on an annual basis to determine whether cataracts or other eye disorders are present. A thorough examination usually includes:
  A visual acuity test to measure clarity at various distances.
  Pupil dilation to examine the lens and retina.
  Tonometry, a standard procedure to measure fluid pressure inside the eye.
Treatment
If your cataract is detected early you may be able to improve your vision for a while using new glasses, strong bifocals, magnification, appropriate lighting or other visual aids. You should consider cataract surgery when your cataracts have progressed enough to seriously impair your vision and affect your daily life. Many people consider poor vision an inevitable fact of aging, but cataract surgery is a simple, relatively painless procedure to regain vision.
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