About the disease
Cataract is partial or total disruption of eye lens resulting in clouding of eye. Eye lens are located behind iris and pupil. Cataract is usually manifested in decreased visual acuity and veil at front of the eyes. To understand better the nature of this disease, one needs to know how an eye works. Human crystalline lens works as camera lens, depicting everything that happens around a person. In youth crystalline lens are completely transparent and elastic, that`s why eye catches all light rays, that fall into retina and eye instantly focuses on close and distant objects. With age lens of the eye gradually begin to thicken and lose essential ability to focus.
Cataract is prominent cause of blindness and decreased vision in world. One person in every six experiences opacity in the lens after 40 years of age. Every second person develops cataracts after 80 years old. According to statistics also 3.7% of world population suffers from cataract. Nevertheless, cataracts prognosis is good for people who started treatment on time and nowadays modern medicine allows patients to recover from almost every cataracts type.
It is not known why lens begin to thicken. Research scientists consider most probable cataracts causes aging, because visual deterioration is a natural part of aging process. Nevertheless, clouding and cataract development can begin earlier under influence of such unfavorable factors as:
- Ultraviolet radiation
- Bad ecology
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Malnutrition, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle
- Hypertensive heart disease and diabetes
- Long-term use of corticosteroids
- Hereditary diseases
- Infection during pregnancy
- Other eye diseases - uveitis, iridocyclitis, glaucoma, high myopia
- Eye injury
- Thermal and radiation exposure
There are several other factors that determine etiology and emergence of cataracts. Among them are:
- Diabetes and other pathologies of thyroid gland. In particular, muscular dystrophy can cause cataracts.
- Prolonged exposure to sun can also be dangerous, that is why people are always recommended to wear sunglasses on sunny days
- Retinal detachment can cause lens breach
- Severe infections, such as malaria, typhoid, smallpox and other might decrease vision acuity
- Anemia, not enough vitamins and minerals, is a predisposing factor for development of eye disease. In this case a person is recommended to eat fruits rich in vitamin A and E. Carrot and other fruits of orange color contain such vitamins. Intoxication of organism can contribute to cataracts development. For instance, long alcohol abuse, drug consumption and smoking cause severe intoxication.
- Skin diseases such as eczema, scleroderma and especially atopic dermatitis.
- Hereditary factor can also be risk factor Patients whose relatives had cataracts need to be diagnosed at ophthalmologist often and they should take special vitamins and pills that strengthen lens.
- Down's disease can cause congenital cataracts, which often occurs if a pregnant woman suffered from a severe infection, such as rubella, toxoplasmosis or influenza. Working in hot workplaces where there is high risk of eye exposure to heat is also very dangerous. Another cataracts cause is polluted environment and ultraviolet radiation exposure.
- Gradual visual acuity decline up to blindness
- Blurred vision
- Brightness and contrast of colors is reduced
- Color of pupil is changed, it can turn white
Cataracts have several degrees of deterioration and symptoms depending on cataracts stage. Nevertheless, many patients regardless of cataracts stage complain of double vision. This is early cataract symptom and as disease progresses, this symptom disappears.
Diagnosis of cataracts does not present difficulties for ophthalmologist. Special microscope allows doctor examine all parts of eye lens and see slightest clouds, which are characteristic for cataracts. Special lamp can also show cataract.
The only treatment for cataracts is microsurgical surgery, when clouded lenses are removed and artificial intraocular lenses are implanted. This is one of the most effective and safe eye surgeries. Recovery after cataract surgery is very quick. In most cases patient receives high visual acuity.
- Cataract extraction and intraocular lens (iol) implantation is a surgery during which the catarct is resected and special intraocular lens is implanted.
- Doctors can also use phacoemulsification which is "gold standard" cataracts treatment worldwide. In this case an artificial lens is implanted with the help of ultrasound. It is done by special ultrasonic device. Advantages of this operation are that there is no pain, as it is performed under local anesthetic, no blood and no scars. Phacoemulsification also lasts only 20 - 30 minutes. Artificial lenses are the most important choice for patients with cataracts, that`s why it is vital to find the right pair before surgery.
- Another common cataracts treatment is laser surgery. Laser is used for automation of certain parts of eye. Laser micro cut is performed on cornea to implant new lens.