What is a cataract?
A cataract is a change in the transparency of the lens of the eye. In a normal eye, the lens is transparent, allowing light to pass through to the retina and the image to form. With age, the lens loses its transparency and develops opacifications, i.e. whitish areas, which prevent normal passage of light towards the retina, compromising vision.
How is a cataract formed?
The appearance of cataracts is usually the result of the natural aging process. In fact, almost all people over 60 years of age have this problem, albeit with different severities. However, when cataracts occur in young people or in diabetic patients, their progression is usually faster. Other causes of cataracts are ocular trauma, excessive exposure to sunlight, and previous eye surgeries. Smoking and the use of certain medications, such as cortisone, are also considered risk factors for the development of cataracts. The appearance or development of cataracts is not caused or exacerbated by activities like reading, sewing or watching television.
What is the treatment for cataracts?
Certain medications may delay the progression of cataracts. However, once formed, cataracts can only be removed by surgery. Only an ophthalmologist can confirm the presence and extent of the cataract or other diseases that may also cause blurred vision. For example, if there are problems with the retina (macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, etc.) or optic nerve (glaucoma, optic atrophy), cataract removal may not significantly improve vision.
How does the cataract manifest itself?
In general, loss of lens transparency is a slow process. In the early stages, depending on its size and location, the cataract may go unnoticed by the patient. For example, if the lens opacification is not central, the patient may not even realize that the cataract is there. However, sooner or later, the cataract will cause changes in vision. The patient with cataracts may see blurred or double images, experience loss of vision, need to change glasses frequently, and have night vision difficulties. Cataracts do not cause pain, but can seriously affect the performance of certain tasks such as reading, sewing, or driving.