Cataracts is the clouding of the lens inside the eye, behind the pupil. This can cause a gradual blurring of vision, which is sometimes described as vision that is ‘frosted’ or ‘fogged up’, with colours appearing less brilliant, poor night vision, and unstable prescription for some people.
This can be apparent under a slit-lamp biomicroscope (/eye-examination), where a slit of light is used to observe the lens behind the pupil, while mature cataracts can be easily seen by shining a pen-light at the pupil of the eye.
Normal aging is the most common cause of cataracts, which is why it often affects both eyes although to a different extent. However, cataracts can also be caused by trauma and other factors, and it can also be congenital (born with it).
Your risk of developing cataracts, expectedly, increases with age. In addition, excessive exposure to Ultra-Violet (UV) light, diabetes, smoking, use of corticosteroid medications, and history of eye surgery may increase the possibility of developing cataracts.
You can reduce your chances of developing cataracts by reducing the risk factors mentioned above, such as by carrying an umbrella when out in the sun and using eyeglasses with UV protection, and maintaining a healthy diet (fruits and vegetables).
Cataracts can be removed by surgery, which should be discussed with your eye doctor if it bothers you or interferes with your work or lifestyle, such as daily tasks like watching the television or driving.
In the early stages, brighter lights and bigger fonts can help with reading, while a good pair of sunnies can help with any glare. An updated pair of eyeglasses would also help if there are changes in your prescription.
When surgery is done, the lens with the cataract is removed, and an artificial lens implant called an “Intra-Ocular Lens” or IOL is inserted in it’s place. There are different kinds of IOLs and you should discuss with your eye doctor on the benefits and disadvantages, taking into account your lifestyle and expectations. You may also want to discuss with your eye doctor about the other eye.
Read more about what to expect after the cataracts surgery.