Cataracts – Signs, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment
At Ardmore Premier Eye Care, our optometrist in Ardmore, Oklahoma evaluates patients for the signs and symptoms of cataracts and helps them to either take the proper preventative measures to avoid cataracts or renders a treatment/referral plan to have them treated appropriately.
What is a Cataract?
The lens of the eye is located inside the eye behind the colored iris. Its purpose is to focus light as it enters the eye onto the retina (layer at the back of the eye sensitive to light which sends an image through the optic nerve to the brain).
The normal lens is clear and is composed of protein and water. After the age of 55 or 60, protein can build up in the lens which causes it to become cloudy or opaque. When this occurs, the entering light becomes scattered or deflected leading to many typical symptoms of a cataract.
Locations of cataracts
Cataracts can usually appear in three various locations within the lens. Nuclear cataracts are in the center or nucleus of the lens and cause a change in color from clear to yellow or occasionally brown.
Cortical cataracts occur in the layers of the lens that surround the nucleus. Posterior capsule cataracts are found on the posterior or back outermost layer of the lens and often develop quickly. (https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/cataract).
Causes of cataracts
Most cataracts develop slowly due to the normal aging process. Other cataracts called congenital cataracts are present at birth. These can occur either in one eye only or in both eyes. Congenital cataracts are usually due to some type of infection such as Rubella (German measles) or a viral infection. They can also occur due to genetic defects or as part of an inherited genetic syndrome. Cataracts can also develop during childhood.
Another major cause of cataracts is diabetes mellitus. Patients with diabetes mellitus have elevated levels of blood sugar (glucose) which then causes elevated levels of glucose in the lens. This leads to swelling of the lens and conversion of glucose to sorbitol in the lens which causes it to become cloudy and more opaque. (https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/diabetes-cataracts).
Other causes of cataracts can include trauma to the eye, UV light exposure and radiation treatment. In addition, medications such as steroids, chlorpromazine and diuretics can also lead to cataracts.
Risk factors for the development of cataracts include cigarette smoking, air pollution and heavy alcohol intake. Deficient intake of Vitamins C and E and decreased amounts of carotenoids (antioxidants) can also cause cataracts to develop.
Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts
Symptoms of a cataract can often include the development of blurry or foggy vision or the feeling of a “film” over an eye. Other symptoms can include changes in color vision and problems driving at night. Glare from oncoming headlights and even glare during the day can be additional symptoms of cataracts as can double vision and poorer vision in contacts and with glasses.
Diagnosis of Cataracts
At Ardmore Premier Eye Care, our optometrist in Ardmore, Oklahoma will conduct a complete ocular history and physical to rule out cataracts. As part of this exam, dilating drops will be placed in both eyes to dilate the pupils and allow for an examination of the lens and retina to determine if cataracts are present. In addition, a Slit Lamp exam will be conducted to examine the structures in the front of the eye including the lens.
There is no currently proven way to prevent cataracts, but steps can be taken to decrease potential risk factors. These include wearing UV blocking lenses, stopping smoking and increasing antioxidant consumption either by eating more green leafy vegetables or taking appropriate supplements.
If cataracts are minimal and not terribly bothersome, visual symptoms can be monitored with regular visits scheduled to monitor any progression. Also, anti-glare coatings can be added to existing glasses lenses and patients can decrease bright light when reading.
If surgery is necessary, our optometrist will refer to an appropriate Ophthalmologic Surgeon for cataract surgery. This can usually involve either Phacoemulsification where a probe is inserted through a small incision in the cornea and the lens is suctioned out or Extracapsular surgery where a larger incision is made in the cornea and the entire lens is removed and replaced with a plastic intraocular lens (IOL).
Learn More About Cataracts From Your Ardmore Optometrist
Ardmore Premier Eye Care offer the highest quality cataract screening and optometric care in Ardmore, OK. Call 580-223-8585 today for a complete eye exam and cataract screening appointment.