A cataract is a progressive cloudiness (also called opacity or opacification), hardening, and yellowing of the normally transparent lens of the eye. It may develop as a result of aging, metabolic disorders, trauma or hereditary.
Alternative Names of Cataracts are: Lens opacity
Complications of Cataracts
Complications of Cataracts are secondary conditions, symptoms, or other disorders that are caused by Cataracts. In many cases the distinction between symptoms of Cataracts and complications of Cataracts is unclear or arbitrary. The list of complications that have been mentioned in various sources for Cataracts includes:
Causes of Cataracts
The following factors may increase a person's chances of developing cataracts:
Signs & Symptoms of Cataracts
The most common symptoms of a cataract are:
These symptoms also can be a sign of other eye problems. If you have any of these symptoms, check with your eye care professional.
Diagnosis of Cataracts
In many cases, the diagnosis of a cataract is fairly simple. However, in the prenatal population, although diagnosis is possible it is a bit more difficult. Ultrasounds have proven an effective method to detect cataracts in unborn children. It is imperative that they be detected early if present as cataracts in babies can result in blindness for life if not treated properly and quickly soon after birth.
The most common way for an age-related cataracts to be diagnosed is during a routine eye exam. Since cataracts usually develop over a long period of time, in many cases they will not even be noticed by the individual if they are not causing any extreme vision changes. This is why it is so crucial, especially for the elderly, to have their eyes checked by a professional on a regular basis.
During an eye exam, performed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist, there are several tests which may be administered to check for the presence of a cataract.
Treatments of Cataracts
The only treatment for cataract is surgery to remove it. This is done if you cannot perform normal activities, even with glasses. If a cataract is not bothersome, then surgery is usually not necessary. However, there may be an additional eye problem that cannot be treated without first having surgery. For some people, changing glasses, getting stronger bifocals, or using a magnifying lens is helpful enough.
Prevention of Cataracts
The best prevention involves controlling diseases that increase the risk of a cataract, and avoiding exposure to factors known to promote cataract formation. Wearing sunglasses when you are outside during the day can reduce the amount of UV light your eyes are exposed to. Some sunglasses do not filter out the harmful UV. An optician should be able to tell you which sunglasses filter out the most UV. For patients who smoke cigarettes, quitting will decrease the risk of cataracts.
When to seek Medical Advice
An eye specialist can detect and track the development of cataracts during routine eye exams. Have your eyes examined:
If you experience any signs and symptoms of cataracts, see your eye doctor. An eye doctor can diagnose cataracts with the help of a careful eye exam.