What is a cataract?

A cataract occurs when the crystalline (the natural lens of the eye that is found behind the pupil) loses its transparency

We can compare the cristalline with the lens of a camara that serves to focus on an object. When the cristalline becomes opaque, rays of light cannot approriately reach the retina, and it looks like we are seeing the world around us through a dirty glass. If the problem developes, a cataract can cause reversible blindness.

The most typical are cataracts due to age. As a cataract begins to develop, it is subtle and unnoticeable. As the cataract develops over time, it will lead to greater vision loss and limit daily activities.

What are the symptoms of a cataract?

  • brightness_1  Blurry vision that progressively worsens.
  • brightness_1  Frequently changing prescription for nearsightedness.
  • brightness_1  Double vision with uncomfortable glare.
  • brightness_1  Faded or washed out colors and contrasts.
  • brightness_1  When a cataract is more advanced, the pupil can appear grey or slightly white.

Photo: "Clear lens in a young patient".

Photo: "Cataract due to age".

Photo: "Intumescent Cataract in a diabetic patient".

How can I know if I have a cataract?

A comprehensive eye exam with an opthalmologist is needed to diagnose a cataract. It is important to visit your eye doctor if you notice any changes in your vision.

In early stages of a cataract, your vision may improve by using prescription glasses. However, in later stages the only treatment option for a cataract is surgery.

Risk factors for developing a cataract:

  • brightness_1  Age
  • brightness_1  Ocular trauma
  • brightness_1  Diabetes
  • brightness_1  Inflammation within the eye
  • brightness_1  Consuming alcohol
  • brightness_1  Smoking
  • brightness_1  Exposure to UV light
  • brightness_1  Taking certain medications like steroids or antipsychotics

Photo: Normal vision.

Photo: Cataract vision.


What is the treatment for a cataract?

When the crystalline becomes opaque (which is a cataract), it is not posible to clean it. The only treatment is to surgically remove it using laser and/or ultrasound and replace with an artificial lens that stays in the eye for the rest of the patient’s life.

This surgery is a same-day outpatient procedure performed with local anesthesia using eye drops and lasts about 15 minutes. Usually, the surgery is performed on one eye and later the other. After cataract surgery, the patient should rest for 24 hours. While in these 24 hours the patient can do many normaly daily activities like eat, bathe, watch television, and sleep as usual it is important that the patient avoid rubbing their eye or lifting heaving objects.

Soon you will be surprised with your new vision with brighter colors and more details. Many patients mention that they can see with much better definition.

Photo: Intraocular lens after cataract surgery

There is no age limit for cataract surgery. Surgery is suggested when you notice that the cataract limits your ability to do daily activities.

Only regular visits with an ophthalmologist can properly diagnose and treat a cataract.

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