What is a cataract?
A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s naturally clear lens. When the lens becomes cloudy, light rays cannot pass through it easily and vision becomes blurred. Cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision loss worldwide.
What causes cataracts?
Cataract development is a normal process of aging. Cataracts can also be present at birth, or develop after eye injuries or inflammation, certain diseases, medications (like prolonged use of steroids) & excessive or longterm exposure to sunlight. If you have diabetes, are a smoker or have a family history of cataracts, you are at a higher risk for developing cataracts.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
l Cloudy or blurry vision
l Colours seem to fade
l Frequent prescription changes in your spectacles or contact lenses
l A halo may appear around lights
l Double vision or multiple images in one eye or glare
l Poor night vision
l Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright
How is cataract treated?
A cataract may not need to be treated if your vision is only slightly blurred. Simply changing your eyeglasses may help improve your vision for a while. There are no medications, eye drops, exercises or glasses that will cause cataracts to disappear. Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract. When you are no longer able to see well enough to do the things you like to do, cataract surgery should be considered. Cataract surgery involves removing the cataract and replacing it with an artificial lens.
How to reduce risk of developing cataracts?
Wear UV protective sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat while you are outdoors. If you are diabetic, talk to your doctor about how to control your blood sugar by diet, exercise and medication. For smokers, quitting smoking offers countless health benefits and cataract prevention is only one of them. Eating more green leafy vegetables, fruits and foods that are rich in antioxidants can help prevent cataracts as well. Antioxidants neutralise harmful free radicals in the body. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables will also help you maintain a healthy weight.
Prevention is better than cure
If you are 40 or older, you should have a dilated comprehensive eye exam every year to screen for cataracts and other eye diseases. If you have an aging parent, you can show your love by taking your parent, relative or loved one for a comprehensive eye exam. Remember, awareness is the key to prevention and even if they occur, Cataracts are common and curable.
Dr. Shreyas Palav
Bahrain Specialist Hospital