Cataracts occur when some of the proteins in our eyes begin to cluster. When this happens, the lens will not send clear images to the retina. According to the CDC, cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness. A 2010 study shows that over 20.48 million people in the United States have cataracts. By 2050, the number of people with cataracts in the U.S is expected to rise to 50 million.
While the condition is common in people above 40, research has shown that it can affect anyone regardless of age. Most of the time, cataracts occur naturally. However, it is worth noting that smoking, long-term use of certain medications, trauma, and exposure to UV rays can increase the risk of developing the condition.
Give Us Your Opinion! – Take Our Eye Care Survey Today
Types of Cataracts
Below are some of the types of cataracts:
Traumatic: This type of cataract occurs after an injury to the eye region. It usually takes a long time to develop.
Nuclear: Nuclear cataracts develop in the middle of the lens and make it brown or yellow.
Posterior Capsular: This type of cataract affects the back of the lens. It develops quicker than most types of cataracts.
Congenital: Congenital cataracts are present at birth. It may develop within the first year of a child’s life in some cases.
Radiation: They develop after a patient undergoes radiation treatment.
Secondary: Secondary cataracts are caused either by medications or disease. Diseases like diabetes and glaucoma are linked to cataracts. Medicines like steroids may cause cataracts too.
Cortical: This develops around the edge of the nucleus.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
- Blurry or misty vision
- Double vision
- Colors appear faded
- High sensitivity to lights
- Difficulty reading
- Needing to change glasses regularly
- Difficulty seeing at night
To diagnose cataracts, your doctor may carry out the following tests:
Retina Examination: Your doctor will use an ophthalmoscope to send light beams through the pupils during a retina exam. The test is done to inspect the back of the eyes.
Tonometry: This test helps to measure the pressure inside the eye.
Visual Test: This test determines how a patient can see. Patients will be asked to read a list of numbers or letters from a set distance during the test.
Slit-lamp Exam: Here, a microscope is used to inspect the iris, cornea, and lens.
Below are some treatments your doctor will recommend to treat cataracts:
- Surgery: Your doctor will only recommend a surgical procedure if the condition prevents you from carrying out daily activities like driving and reading.
- Extracapsular Surgery: During this procedure, the misty part of the lens is removed.
- Phacoemulsification: Here, ultrasound waves break up the clouded lens.
How to Manage
Below are some dietary changes that can help address cataracts:
- First, reduce your intake or avoid fatty foods: Studies have shown that consuming highly processed food with high carbs and fat may increase the risk of getting cataracts.
- Add fish to your diet: Fishes are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help to improve eye health.
- Eat more veggies and fruits: Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and can improve your general health while also helping to repair damaged tissue.
- Honey: Honey has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that consuming honey may improve eye health.
- How can I prevent cataracts? First, you will have to make some lifestyle changes. Below are a few of them:
- Stop smoking: A recent study found that smoking can triple the risk of eye diseases like cataracts.
- Follow a healthy diet: Following a diet rich in vitamins, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins can reduce the risk of eye disease.
- Weight management: Obese people have a higher chance of developing type 2-diabetes, which is linked to cataracts.
- Shield your eyes from UV rays: Wearing sunglasses can help reduce the risk of cataracts caused by radiation.
- When should I contact a doctor? You should seek medical attention if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Inability to read
- Difficulty recognizing people’s faces
- Cannot drive properly
- Vision impairment interferes with you caring for yourself or someone else
- Cannot do your job
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!