Our eyes, like any of our organs are vital for us to go on with our everyday life. As we age, some of us might develop cataract which could seriously damage our vision. Much like a camera, light rays enter the eye, passing through the cornea, the aqueous humor (a transparent fluid in the front of the eye), followed by the pupils and into the lens. The lens bend these rays to focus objects onto the retina lining the back of the eye. It is from here that images pass through the retina cells into the optic nerve and finally to the back of the brain which process these images.

Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens due to a buildup of protein that could impair vision. Light is prevented from passing clearly through the lens. New lens form on the outside of the lens causing the older lens to be compacted into the center of the lens which leads to cataract. The cloudier the lens are, the more the vision will be affected.

 

Cataract can develop in one or both eyes. If it develops in both eyes, one will be more severely affected than the other.

The different types of cataract include:

- Age-related cataracts; develops as a result of aging.
- Congenital cataracts; babies are sometimes born with cataracts as a result organ infection, injury or poor - development before they were born. It could also be developed during childhood.
- Secondary cataracts; these develop as a result of other medical conditions such as diabetes, toxic substances, ultraviolet light or radiation.
- Traumatic cataracts; forms after an injury to the eye.

Other factors such as cigarette smoke, air pollution and heavy alcohol consumption can increase a person’s risk of developing cataract.

What are the symptoms?

The process of developing cataracts is a slow one in which there are few symptoms until vision is noticeably blocked. Some of the symptoms include:

- Cloudy/blurry vision
- Progressive nearsightedness in older people called “second sight” as they may no longer need reading glasses
- Changes in the appearance of colour due to the discoloured lens
- Problems driving at night due to glare from oncoming vehicles or glare during the day
- Double vision
- Sudden changes to the prescription of glasses

Cataract is not harmful to a sufferer’s health, or the health of the eye. If the cataract becomes hyper mature (completely white), the sufferer may experience inflammation and headache. In such a case, the cataract would need to be removed.

In order to diagnose cataract, one has to take an eye examination to test how well they can see. The doctor will also dilate one’s pupil in order to examine the condition of the lens and other parts of the eye.

For mild cases, vision can be corrected to an acceptable level with a change in prescription and eye glasses. This may just be a temporary measure and may require surgery in the long-run. In more serious cases, surgery would be recommended whereby the clouded lens is replaces with a clear, artificial one.

Prevention of Cataracts

It is advisable to have regular eye exams as you get older. The following steps help to lower your risk of developing cataracts.

1. Give up smoking - Several studies show that smokers tend to experience cataract symptoms earlier.
2. Nutrition - Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, unrefined carbohydrates and good quality fats.
3. Supplements - Support your diet with supplements such as Bilberry Eyebright Vision, Vitamin B-2, Ultimate Eye Formula 4. Lutein & Zeaxanthin that boost your overall eye health.
4. Sunlight - Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B rays (UV radiation).
5. Sleep - Get a minimum of 7 hours of good quality sleep at night.
6. Obesity - It raises the risk of developing diabetes type 2, which is a risk factor for cataract.
7 .Exercise - Studies show that running reduces the risk of both cataracts and age-relates macular degeneration.

Our eyes are crucial to our everyday life. It is therefore important to take active steps in the prevention of cataracts. Early detection can help lessen the harsh impact on your vision. In this post, we hope to have educated you more on cataracts and how you can beat it.