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Clearing a Cataract

A cataract is the clouding of the lens of the eyes that affects vision. It is associated with aging as it is very common in older people. More than half of people at the age of 80 in the United States either have this condition or have undergone cataract surgery. It can occur in one or both eyes.

Other Types of Cataract

•    Secondary. It is caused by other conditions like diabetes, steroid use or surgery from eye problems like glaucoma.

•    Traumatic. It develops after an eye suffers an injury.

•    Congenital. It can be in-born or it can develop during childhood. It may be very small such that it will not affect vision. If vision is affected, lenses might need to be removed.

•    Radiation. It develops after exposure to radiation.
Symptoms of a Cataract

•    Colors appear faded
•    Poor vision at night
•    Frequent prescription changes for eye glasses or contact lenses
•    Blurred or cloudy vision
•    Glare from light seems too bright
•    Double vision or seeing multiple images
•    Halo may appear around lights.

Causes of a Cataract

•    Protein in the lens tends to clump together as we age. When that happens, a small area of the lens starts to cloud and the area may become bigger over time which can impair vision.
•    Changes in the protein in the lens due to wear and tear over the years.
•    Smoking
•    Prolonged exposure to sunlight
•    Diabetes.

Tips for Cataract Prevention

•    Protect your eyes against ultraviolet sunlight by using hats or sunglasses.
•    Stop smoking.
•    Use brighter lighting when reading – this will not prevent cataract but allow you to function better if one is developing.
•    Have a healthy diet and include fruits, green, leafy vegetables and other food with anti-oxidants in your meals.
•    If you are 60 years old and above, make sure that you undergo a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years. You should also have your eye checked for other age-related eye conditions.

Treatment

If the preventive measures to treat a cataract do not work, then you have no other option but to undergo surgery to remove the cloudy lens and to replace it with an artificial one. Note, however, that removal should be your last resort and only if your loss of vision already affects how you function in your daily activities like driving and reading. It is best to consult your eye doctor to know whether or not this procedure suits you. It is worth noting that if you delay a surgery when you need it, your eye might suffer from a long-term damage and the surgery might become more difficult and complicated.

If both of your eyes have cataracts and they require surgery, the procedure will be performed on each eye separately, around four to eight weeks apart.

A surgery can cause infection and bleeding. Thus, it is important that you strictly follow your doctor’s instructions and take prescribed medications in order to avoid these complications.

You don’t have to worry though as it is a fairly safe and effective procedure with 90% of patients registering improved vision after the surgery. The entire surgery takes around one hour and is usually an out-patient procedure.

About the Author

Dr Jim Kokkinakis (Optometrist) graduated in 1983 from the Optometry School University of NSW. He is currently a Senior Lecturer there and regular speaker to both Optometrists and Ophthalmologists in Australia and Internationally. He has a specialist clinical practice in the Sydney CBD with interests in Eye Strain, Computer Vision problems, Treatment of Eye Diseases and complex Contact lens Fittings.

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