Diminishing eyesight is often seen as something caused solely by advancing age. However, in reality there are many reasons why your eyesight can begin to fail. One of the most common causes is cataracts. A cataract refers to a change in the lens of the eye that reduces the clarity of vision. Whilst it is true that cataracts are often the result of old age, they can be treated and prevented.
What Causes Cataracts?
Within the eye, there is a flexible, crystalline structure called the lens, which sits behind the pupil and iris. It is the job of the lens to focus light that enters the eye onto the layer of light sensitive cells at the back of the eyeball. These cells then convert the light to electrical impulses, and transmit it to the brain via the optic nerve. Should the lens fail to focus light effectively, only limited information will reach the brain, resulting in impaired or blurred vision.
The lens is composed mainly of water and proteins. If the arrangement of these proteins is altered, the lens will become cloudy, reducing its ability to focus light. This clouding of the lens is known as a cataract. Age is the main factor associated with cataract formation, but they can also be caused by ultraviolet radiation, smoking, or genetic factors (family history of cataracts).
Preventing and Treating Cataracts
Cataracts may not be an unavoidable consequence of age. The risk of developing cataracts can be reduced through intake of certain nutrients. Studies have shown that high dietary intake of Vitamin E and carotenoids are associated with reduced risk of cataracts. These nutrients can be found in sunflower seeds and green, leafy vegetables.
However, should cataracts develop there are treatments available that can help restore your vision. Cataract replacement surgery is the most frequently preformed surgical procedure in the USA; it is a relatively simple procedure, and has a very high success rate in restoring vision. During the procedure, the surgeon will remove the lens in the affected eye (and with it the cataract), before putting in an 'artificial' replacement. This replacement will usually be a clear, plastic intraocular lens. Nowadays, cataract laser surgery is often performed, in which the removal of the clouded lens is conducted using a high-powered laser. The advantage of laser cataract surgery is that it can be conducted with a much higher degree of accuracy than manual surgery, due to the precision of the laser.Share
25 August 2016
My name is Katie Langer. For a long time, I was bed ridden and I felt like I had no control over my life. I simply went along with what was instructed by my doctor and I didn't ask questions. It wasn't that my doctor wasn't willing to work with me, but I preferred to simply not think about the illness I was suffering from. I didn't realize that some of the symptoms I was suffering from were side effects of my medication and were not normal. After communicating more with my doctor, I was able to alleviate my symptoms. Since then, I've taken an interest in patient-doctor relationships and how to improve them.