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Cataracts

Cataracts are a common ailment of the eye. It is a clouding of the crystalline lens, found behind a person’s iris and pupil. The eye lens focuses light on the retina, which lines the back of the eyeball. Focus also comes from the lens, which in turn helps a person to see items clearly, either close up or from far away. Causes for cataracts can be; trauma to the eye, cortisone medication, diabetes along with a number of other diseases, or as an individual ages protein that is naturally found on the lens can start to form together into clumps, which in turn clouds up a tiny part of the lens. This is called a cataract, and can become bigger and cloudier over time. A cataract fogs up the vision and can make it extremely difficult to see, depending on the size. Vision through a cataract is similar to being in very dim light situations or looking through the side of a glass that has a film of dried milk on it.

There are three different types of cataracts that are commonly seen. The first is called a subcapsular cataract. This type of cataract will start on the back of the eye lens. These can commonly occur in patients who have diabetes, are severely farsighted, or who are taking a large amount of steroids. A nuclear cataract is the most common type, because it develops as a person ages and for no other factor. A cataract of this type will form in the middle of the lens, called the nucleus. The final type is known as the cortical cataract, and starts in the cortex of the lens. It then begins to slowly extend from the outer edges of the lens into the center. This type is typically developed by those who are diabetic.

Specialists are still not completely certain why a person’s eyes change when they get older, which is the main cause of cataracts. There are some studies that have developed a few theories. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet light is thought to increase the risk of cataracts, so sunglasses with the maximum amount of UV protection is recommended and limited exposure is suggested. Some studies have shown that pilots and astronauts who are exposed to cosmic radiation have a higher risk of developing a nuclear cataract. Cataracts have also been found to be more prominent around the equator. Other risk factors such as heavy pollution, cigarette smoke, and a high consumption of alcohol may put people at risk for cataracts. As stated before, those who have diabetes and take a high amount of steroids are also at risk.

There are some symptoms of cataract that can be watched for, so that if one develops, treatment can be started right away. A cataract is usually not noticed right away because they can start small and they do not affect the person’s vision much. Colors may seem duller than before, and when the cataract gets more noticeable, the vision becomes blurred. It may seem as though you are looking through a cloudy glass. Sometimes a cataract will cause lights from lamps or headlights to seem like they have much more of a glare than they did before.

Those who believe a cataract is developing should be seen as soon as they can be by an eye doctor or specialist. Newer (eyeglasses) and stronger (prescription) bifocals can help improve one’s sight for the time being. However, when the cataract gets worse, surgery to remove the crystalline lens and replace it may be an option, as it is one of the highest performed surgeries in the United States. This can be the best option for those who suffer from cataracts. It has an extremely high success rate, and can make a vast improvement in one’s life.


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