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Cataracts: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, Advancements

Cataract: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and AdvancementsIn this article I explore everything you want to know about cataracts including their causes, symptoms, treatments, and advancements.

A cataract is an eye condition where the natural lens inside the eye gets clouded, thus impairing vision. More than 50% of Americans over 80 years of age have been afflicted with cataracts—Making it a very common eye complication.

Cataracts develop gradually over the years, and not suddenly. Early diagnosis and treatment for your vision can go a long way in maintaining visual acuity and clear sight.

In this guide, we’re going to look at the causes, symptoms, treatment options, and recent advancements in technology associated with cataracts.

I’m sharing this article because I’m a best-selling wellness author – known for my health-boosting longevity book, Life is Long.

Inside my book I share a range of health tips to slow down the aging process – so you can live longer, healthier, younger, more energetically.

But in this article I’m going to focus simply on cataracts and their causes, symptoms, treatments, and advancements.

For a professional diagnosis and to find out the best way forward, you’re highly recommended to get in touch with reputable eye clinics such as Discover Vision Centers.

Causes of Cataracts

The most common cause of cataracts is age. The clear lens of the eye gets cloudy over time and in old age, the condition becomes significantly worse such that the individual’s vision is impaired to a high degree. In the beginning, however, it starts with a blurry vision—Sort of like looking through a cloudy window.

The proteins in the eye can clump together as we grow older.

This results in clouding and vision problems until finally becoming cataracts.

Age-related causes aren’t the only causes behind cataracts, however.

Cataracts can also be caused by several other factors including long-term exposure to UV radiation, certain medications such as steroids, eye injuries or trauma, medical conditions like diabetes, and some genetic factors as well.

Symptoms of Cataracts

The most common symptom of cataracts is blurry or cloudy vision. This makes it difficult to see objects clearly—Both near and far. Cataracts’ blurriness is different from that caused by myopia or hyperopia and is often characterized by a feeling of looking into a haze or fog. Squinting doesn’t help either as it’s not the cornea’s shape that’s affecting the sharpness or focus.

Cataracts might also have other symptoms such as:

  • High sensitivity to light: Experiencing glare or halos around lights is normal for people with cataracts. Individuals might also become very sensitive to light in general. For example, individuals report lamps, sunlight, and headlights seeming too bright for their eyes.
  • Poor night vision: Cataracts can also cause significantly reduced vision in dimly lit environments and at night, which makes it particularly challenging to drive or see in low-light situations.
  • Faded or yellowed colors: Some people also experience a change in their color perception. Things start to appear duller, faded, or yellower than they normally are when viewed through a clouded lens.

Cataract Treatment Options

If cataracts begin to interfere with an individual’s usual activities, surgery might be recommended. The natural lens that has become cloudy is taken out and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) that’s perfectly clear. This restores the eye’s visual acuity and clarity.

IOL surgery is usually safe, dependable, and an outpatient procedure.

Other factors, such as how long does it take to recover from cataract surgery, depend on a variety of factors such as the procedure you opt for, medical history, the clinic you go to, and so on.

An implantable IOL lens is the only option to fully treat cataracts reliably. It has a good success rate and is one of the most common eye surgeries. However, in the early stages, cataracts can be managed with non-surgical approaches as well.

These approaches might include using brighter lighting, wearing glasses with anti-glare coatings, and updating your eyeglass prescription for a change in power regularly.

In some cases, no IOL might replace the removed natural lens, and instead, you will be prescribed a high-powered contact lens or eyeglasses. Note that in the absence of a lens (natural or artificial) in the eye, the vision is very blurry as the lens focuses light rays so they can fall on the retina and create a sharp image. The absence of a lens is called aphakia.

Advancements in Cataract Treatment

Cataract surgery has undergone various technological advancements over the years.

1. The most common procedure for an IOL surgery is phacoemulsification.

The eye surgeon will make a small incision in the cornea of the eye, inserting a very thin probe into the incision. This probe transmits fast-vibrating ultrasound waves that emulsify or break up the cataract.

The emulsified lens with cataracts is then sucked out. An artificial lens is placed instead. Sutures might be needed to keep the new lens in place even though it’s attached to the back of the lens capsule and a future appointment might be needed to undo them.

2. Another process to implant an IOL is by using an extracapsular cataract extraction or ECCE.

In this process, a larger incision is made into the cornea to physically remove the lens substance without emulsifying it first.

Note that in both cases, you’ll likely be under local anesthesia and a sedative.

3. Femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS) is the latest advancement in this segment.

This advanced procedure uses laser technology to perform some of the steps typically involved in cataract surgery. This enhances the precision while reducing the risk of any complications.

More specifically, this technique uses lasers to break up the cataract without using traditional blades or scalpels. As the laser is computer-guided, the corneal incision, capsulotomy, and lens fragmentation steps are more accurate, safe, and effective.

A 2019 paper in the High-Resolution Imaging in Microscopy and Ophthalmology remarked, “FLACS appears safe and efficacious, and may eventually be proven superior to conventional cataract surgery.”

Wrapping Up

Cataracts are a common eye condition that becomes more prevalent with age. While symptoms start out mild, left untreated they can significantly impair vision. Cataract surgery is a safe and effective procedure that can fully restore sight by replacing the clouded natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens.

Advancements like femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery and new lens designs are improving the procedure’s safety, accuracy, and visual outcomes. Early detection and prompt treatment can minimize vision loss and maximize a patient’s quality of life.

Cataract Reminder…

If you notice symptoms of cataracts such as blurry or clouded vision, sensitivity to light, or poor night vision, see an eye specialist as soon as possible. They can evaluate you, discuss your full range of treatment options and advise on the best time for surgery based on your symptoms and lifestyle needs. With today’s advanced technology and the expertise of eye care specialists, cataract surgery can yield outstanding visual results and patient satisfaction.

In summary, though cataracts are common and age-related, present-day treatments like surgical lens replacement and innovative laser procedures are very effective at reversing vision loss and restoring full clarity and precision of sight. Early detection and evaluation by an eye doctor at Kansas City cataract surgery centers is key to achieving the best possible visual outcomes.

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