What is cataract?
Cataract is one of the most common diseases of the eye that affects a sizable section of the world’s population. Although most cataracts appear in patients above 40 years of age, paediatric cataract is not a rare phenomenon either.
Cataract is a disease that affects the lens of the eye. The human lens, like the lens of a camera, focusses light on the retina (the camera film). Typically, the human lens contains soluble proteins and water that are arranged in a specific pattern to give the lens its transparent nature. It is this transparency that enables light to pass through and focus on the retina, to be picked up by the optic nerve to form an image of what you see. As we grow old, the proteins start clumping together and clouding the lens, and this is called Cataract. Besides ageing, cataract can also develop due to exposure to UV rays, injury, prolonged use of certain medications etc.
The symptoms of cataract largely depend on the type of cataract that’s developing in the lens. Not all cataracts are alike. While for some people, it develops in the center of the lens others could develop it around the lens’ periphery while few others might have it at the back of their lens. Some of the most common symptoms, however, are blurry/clouded vision, sensitivity to bright light, dull appearance of colours, change in spectacle prescription, etc. In case of paediatric cataract, you’ll find that the kid does not react well to light or colourful objects. If you notice one or more of these symptoms, please visit your eye doctor and get a check-up done immediately.
Prevention of cataract is an arguable subject. While there’s no concrete proof on what could reduce the risk of cataract, there’s no harm in practicing a healthy lifestyle that includes a diet rich in nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids along with some exercise and ample sleep. If not reducing the risk of cataract, there’s a good chance that your quality of life will be greatly improved with these minor inclusions in your routine!
Cataracts can be easily treated with a simple surgery. After your initial rounds of consultation, you’ll be counselled for surgery depending on the severity of your condition. On the day of surgery, you’ll be prepped and given local anaesthesia. Your eye surgeon will perform a process called phacoemulsification during which the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with a clear man-made focussing lens. These artificial lenses (called as intraocular lens implant, or IOL) remain permanently inside your eye and do not degrade. The entire process takes less than 30 minutes and is absolutely painless.
Cataract surgery is usually a day care procedure, which means that you will go home on the day of your operation. However, you may wish to arrange for someone to stay overnight with you at home on the day of surgery.