Cataracts can develop due to aging or injury, and occur when the tissue responsible for making up the lens of the eye is changed. Some cataracts occur as a result of an inherited genetic disorder, typically responsible for causing other health issues as well as cataracts. The lens exists behind the iris, the colored part of the eye. The lens is responsible for focusing light passing through the eye, functioning similarly to the film in a camera. The development of a cataract scatters the light passing through the eye, preventing the eye from creating a sharply defined image by the time it reaches the retina, which results in a blurry image.
By the time vision is beginning to blur, the patient is already well on their way to developing a cataract. Because there are different types of cataracts and different causes, it is essential to get to the bottom of what is causing the blurred vision before it becomes worse. Many forms of cataracts can be corrected using surgery, but only if the cataract is caught quickly enough before further damage is sustained by the eye.
The signs and symptoms associated with cataracts can include dimmed vision, blurred vision, clouded vision, increasing vision difficulties at night, sensitivity to glare or light, viewing halos around lighted objects, frequent eyeglass upgrades or contact lens prescription changes, double vision only in one eye and fading or yellowing in colors. For most people, the symptoms come on slowly and it takes time before the cataract really begins to show blurriness in the patients field of vision.
In order to determine whether or not a patient has a cataract, the physician will run a number of different tests. The first is a visual acuity test, which involves asking the patient to read an eye chart. The second is to utilize light and magnification to examine the eye, a procedure known as slit-lamp examination. This allows the doctor to see structures at the front of the eyeball through magnification. Finally, the physician will utilize retinal examination, dilating the eyes to examine the retina using an ophthalmoscope.
The most effective treatment for cataracts is simply known as cataract surgery. Most physicians only recommend cataract surgery believing that other treatments are not effective, which they typically are not. Cataract surgery is the recommended course of action when cataracts are affecting ones quality of life. This surgery involves removing the lens that has become clouded and then replacing it with an implant which is a plastic version of the lens. The replacement lens is meant to sit in the same place as the original natural lens, becoming a part of the eye. There are some people who cannot get a replacement lens through cataract surgery because they have other eye problems or issues, so working closely with a physician is essential in determining whether or not this is a viable treatment solution.