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Facts about cataract

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Bernice Clark | Wednesday March 4, 2009 5:01PM ET
cataractCataracts usually develop in both eyes, but one eye may be in worse condition then the other.


The lens of the eye collects the light and focuses it on the retina. In order to function properly the lens must be crystal clear. The lens of the eye is made of mostly proteins and water. When the proteins in the eye are changed, they form a cloudy area in the lens which prevents the passage of light to the retina, the part of the eye that receives light.

A cataract may vary in its size and position which affects the vision more or less. It can be present in the eye for years without causing any problem, but as it matures, the cloudiness increases, and less and less light reaches the retina. Then a significant loss of sight, and even blindness, may appear.

A cataract is not a disease but a condition which means that it forms for many reasons. About 90 percent of cataracts develop in people older than 60, and that type is called cataracta senilis. However, cataracts can form in young children too.

cataractSecondary cataracts develop as a result of treating some other medical problem such as glaucoma or diabetes. The third type are congenital cataracts which are genetic and they can be found in babies and in some cases they can develop in childhood. A trauma, exposure to infrared radiation or sunlight may also lead to cataract. Several studies showed that there is a connection between the cataract and the lifestyle: smoking and heavy drinking are clearly related to cataract formation.

There are three stages of a cataract named immature, mature and hypermature. If a patient has just a part of its vision, the cataract is called immature. When a cataract completely prevents the light to come to the retina then it is called mature. When a cataract starts to leak a fluid to other parts of the eye it is called a hypermature cataract.

Signs and symptoms of a cataract are blurred vision, reduced intensity of colors, increased sensitivity to light, double vision, difficulty seeing at night, or often change of contact lenses or glasses. All of those symptoms may be the consequence of some other medical condition or disease, so it is necessary to visit an ophthalmologist who will detect do you have a cataract.

A cataract cannot be treated with drugs. If the cloud don't cover all parts of the lens and the vision is impacted minimally, no treatment may be needed. At that phase a change of glasses or contact lenses may provide an improvement of vision.

If you can't perform his daily activities, then a surgery is needed. The surgeon will remove the lens of the eye and replace it with an artificial lens which significantly improve vision. That artificial lens becomes an integral part of the eye, it requires no care, and the patient doesn't feel its presence. After the surgery the pain should disappear in one or two days, and the eye should recover completely after six weeks.

Cataract surgery is one of the safest types of surgery and about 90 percent of patients report better vision after the cataract surgery. Thus, it is important that the patient after the surgery visit his ophthalmologist regularly.

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