What are cataracts?
A cataract is a condition in which the lens of the eye loses its transparency. As we age, the lenses in our eyes become cloudy, causing a gradual blurring of vision along with reduced night vision. Many people are not aware that they have cataracts because the change in their vision is so gradual.
Cataracts are most common in people over the age of 60; however, certain types of cataracts can occur in younger people. There are three main types of cataracts: nuclear sclerosis, anterior cortical cataract, and posterior sub-capsular cataract. In most cases, a cataract presents itself as a combination of the three types.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
- • Reduced distance and/or near vision
- • Dim or blurry vision
- • Difficulty driving at night
- • Glare
- • More light required for reading
- • Increased nearsightedness
What are the risk factors for cataracts?
- • Age
- • Medications (steroids over time increase the risk of posterior sub capsular cataracts)
- • UV light exposure
- • Family history
- • Diets excessively high in sugar and refined
Prevention of cataracts:
What is the current treatment for cataracts?
Cataracts progress at different rates in different people, so if you have cataracts it is important to talk to your eye doctor about the stage of your cataracts. If you have early signs of cataracts, you may be able to delay their progression by consuming a diet rich in foods that promote eye health (Eyefoods) and by wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV and blue light.
- • Protect your eyes from UV light
- • Enjoy a diet rich in anti-oxidants and the
carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin
- • Limit your consumption of foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates
- • Choose fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids
Cataract surgery is the only treatment for advanced cataracts. An ophthalmologist performs cataract surgery on patients if the cataracts are visually and clinically significant.
If cataract surgery is required, the surgeon will use an ultrasound technology (phaco-emulsification) to break up the cataract before it is removed. The surgeon then removes the lens of the eye and replaces it with an intraocular lens implant. Many different types of intraocular lens implants are available, so remember to ask your eye surgeon which intraocular lens implant will be best for you.
Cataract surgery is generally a safe procedure and the risk for complications in cataract surgery is very low. Most people feel no pain or discomfort during or after cataract surgery. The surgery is performed either in a hospital or a clinic depending on regional policies.
Healing and recovery time after cataract surgery varies, though many people see an improvement in their vision within a few days. Most people will no longer require glasses for seeing at a distance, though they may still have to use reading glasses. Your surgeon or optometrist will assess your eyes a scheduled follow-up visits.
Research References: Tan, J., J. Wang, V. Flood, S. Kaushik, A. Barclay, J. Brand-Miller, and P. Mitchell. 2007.Carbohydrate nutrition, glycemic index, and the 10-year incidence of cataract. Am J
Clin Nutr86 (5): 1502-8.
Moeller, S., M. Voland, L.Tinker, B. Blodi, M. Klein, K. Gehrs, E. Johnson, D. Snodderly, R.
Wallace, R. Chappell, N. Parekh, C. Ritenbaugh, and J. Mares; for the CAREDS Study
Group. 2008. Associations between age-related nuclear cataract and lutein and
zeaxanthin in the diet and serum in the (CAREDS). Arch ophthalmol 126(2): 354-64.