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Cataract: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Cost

Last Updated: Jan 06, 2023

Overview

A cloudy area in the lens of the eye known as a cataract impairs vision. One or both eyes may be affected by cataracts, which progress slowly. Some signs of the condition include faded tints, hazy or double vision, halos surrounding lights, difficulty with bright lights, and difficulty in seeing at night. Driving, reading, or recognising faces can become difficult. There is an increased risk of falling and depression due to cataract-related poor vision.

Summary- Cataract is the clouding of your eye lens that leads to vision impairments.

What is Cataract?

When your eye's natural lens gets clouded, it is termed a cataract. Things appear fuzzy, hazy, or less vivid as a result of it. A clear, artificial lens can be used to replace the hazy one for preventing vision problems. This is a safe outpatient surgery.

Summary- Cataract is clouding of the eye lens.

Vision Problems with Cataracts

A lot of vision problems are related to Cataracts. The first and most common issue is blurry vision, followed by sensitivity to bright light and double vision. Cataract, if not treated on time can also lead to blindness or vision impairment.

Summary- Cataracts can lead to problems like blurred vision and blindness.

Are cataracts common?

Cataracts are a very prevalent eye problem that originates in senior citizens. And a primary reason for blindness that can be preventable. There are numerous causes of vision impairment around the world, but cataracts are among the most common. It is estimated that cataracts cause 47.8% of blindness worldwide, and account for 17.7 million blind people. In India, cataracts account for 80% of blindness.

Summary- Yes, cataracts are very common, especially in people of older age groups.
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Types of Cataract

Cataracts can be of different types. As they develop, they are identified according to where and how they are present in your eyes. Among the different kinds of cataracts are:

  • Nuclear cataracts: In this case, the cataract affects the centre of the lens. In some cases, the lens will turn brown as the cataract progresses. As a result, you may have difficulty distinguishing colours. Additionally, it may result in the issue of nearsightedness.
  • Cortical cataracts: Cortical cataracts usually affect the edges of the lens. It forms in the cortex. It can cause blurred vision, glares, contrast issues, and difficulties in perceiving depth.
  • Posterior subcapsular cataracts: These affect the posterior or back surface of the lens. The subcapsular layer is formed beneath the lens capsule, a small sac or membrane that encloses and secures the lens.
  • Congenital cataracts: You are born with this cataract. In some cases, people may have a cataract right from birth or develop a cataract in their childhood. Its causes are intrauterine infections, genes, traumas, rubella, myotonic dystrophy, neurofibromatosis type 2, and galactosemia.

Summary- The types of cataracts are: nuclear cataracts, congenital cataracts, cortical cataracts and posterior subcapsular cataracts.

What are the symptoms of Cataract?

Common cataracts symptoms include:

  • Vision becomes blurry
  • It becomes difficult to see at night or in the dark
  • Eyes become vulnerable to light and glare
  • Colours have faded appearance
  • Lights appear to have halos
  • Having double vision in the affected eye
  • Regularly having to change lenses or prescriptions for eyeglasses
Summary- Symptoms of cataracts are: blurred vision, difficulty in seeing at night, faded colours and double vision.

What are the first signs of Cataract?

The most common and earliest sign of cataracts is blurry vision. Alongside this, cataracts may also be characterized by the following signs:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Deterioration in night vision
  • Brown or yellowish eyes
  • Difficulty in identifying colors/ colors appearing faded
  • Difficulty in reading
  • Diplopia or seeing things in double
Summary- First signs of cataract are light sensitivity, diplopia, difficulty in reading and identification of colours.

What causes Cataract?

About 40 is the average age at which cataracts develop. People usually notice cataract symptoms after they reach 60 years of age. nIt is possible to influence cataract development through a number of factors, including:

  • Smoking
  • UV radiation
  • The use of steroids and other medications over an extended period of time
  • Diabetes and other diseases
  • Consuming alcohol in huge quantities
  • Radiation therapy

Summary- Causes of Cataract are: UV radiation, diabetes, smoking, drinking and radiation therapy.

Am I at risk for cataracts?

A person's risk for cataracts increases as he or she ages. There may be a higher risk if you:

  • Are suffering from certain health conditions, for example diabetes
  • Smoke excessively
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Cataracts run in your family
  • You have suffered an eye injury, had eye surgery, or received radiation treatment to your upper body
  • Have been exposed to the sun for a long period of time
  • If you're concerned you might have cataracts, consult your doctor to reduce the risks involved.
Summary- You are at a higher risk of developing cataracts if you have diabetes or if you smoke and drink frequently.

How serious is Cataract?

Most cataracts grow slowly and don't impair your vision in the initial stage. However, it will eventually obstruct your vision over time. Untreated cataracts will eventually seriously disrupt daily life and make it difficult to perform common tasks like driving a car or watching television. It can also lead to complete blindness.

Summary- If left untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness.

Risk factors for Cataract

The factors that can increase the risk of cataracts are:

Summary- The risk factors of cataracts are: diabetes, injury, eye surgery, obesity, high blood pressure and smoking.

How can you prevent Cataract?

There is no cure for Cataracts apart from surgeries. Nonetheless, following some simple dos and don'ts may help reduce the risks of cataract for some people:

Do's

  • Do use sun protection for your eyes when going out or exposing your eyes to the sun.
  • Do get routine eye check ups done to ensure your eyes are in a good condition.
  • Do increase the intake of nutritious fruits and vegetables with vitamin C, vitamin E and antioxidants.
  • Do drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated

Don'ts

  • Do not smoke
  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Do not let your blood sugar level rise

Summary- Cataracts can be prevented by making some lifestyle adjustments like avoiding smoking, drinking, taking a healthy diet and plenty of fluids.

How is a Cataract diagnosed and What tests are done for Cataract?

Cataracts can be diagnosed in the following ways:

  • Visual acuity Test: It is done with the help of an eye chart that assesses your ability to read a series of letters. Both eyes are diagnosed one by one. It helps to determine if you have 20/20 vision or vision impairment with the help of the chart.
  • Slit-lamp Test: Your eye doctor uses a slit lamp to magnify the structures in the front of your eye. The microscope is also called a slit-lamp as it makes use of an optical system called a slit lamp. It slits the eye structure into tiny sections for proper diagnosis.
  • Retinal exam: It is done by dilating the eyes using eye drops. It helps in the detection of abnormalities. Your eye doctor checks your lens for cataracts using a slit lamp or an ophthalmoscope.
  • Applanation tonometry: The purpose of this test is to measure the fluid pressure in your eyes. It is accomplished with the use of a few tools.

Summary- Cataracts can be diagnosed with the help of physical examination, visual acuity test, retinal exam, slit-lamp test and applanation tonometry.

Are there any possible complications associated with cataracts?

Complications may arise in any surgical treatment. Similarly, there are several complications involved in cataract surgery that may arise during the surgery, including:

  • Pain: Pain is a common complication of many surgical procedures. In general, over-the-counter pain relievers are effective since cataract surgery only involves the superficial layers of your eye. Your doctor should be immediately consulted in case of excessive pain or discomfort. This could also be a sign for a more serious underlying issue.
  • Bleeding: People with diabetes, high blood pressure, or other existing conditions may suffer from suprachoroidal hemorrhage after cataract surgery. Despite its rarity, this complication requires immediate attention to prevent vision loss.
  • Infection: It is possible to develop endophthalmitis after cataract surgery. However, it is rare, occurring in less than 0.5 percent of cataract surgeries.
  • Dry or itchy eyes: Itching and dryness are common during the healing process. You may experience dryness, itching, or gritty sensations in your eyes. This problem may be helped by lubricating eye drops. Following surgery, consult your doctor about using eye drops.
  • Corneal edema: In general, this is an expected result of surgery, but there may be some concerns with it. It is common to experience swelling in the cornea after surgery at incision sites, but it can occur anywhere in the cornea. Swelling can be reduced with topical steroids.
  • Light sensitivity: The sensitivity to light may continue due to dryness or inflammation; in extreme cases, it may be an indication of infection. Steroid eye drops can be prescribed to treat iritis (inflammation of the iris). Several months of wearing sunglasses can be helpful for some people.
  • Photopsia: Floaters and flashes of light are both symptoms of photopsia, which occurs when the gel inside the eye separates from the retina. In most cases, symptoms go away within a few months through a natural process. The floating cells can be removed in extreme cases by replacing the gel with a vitrectomy.
  • Macular edema: An accumulation of fluid in the macula, the center of the retina at the back of the eye, causes this condition. Medication and diet can be used to treat it, but it may take several months to resolve. It is important that this condition is closely monitored by your doctor.
  • Retinal detachment: This is a comparatively serious complication that mostly occurs in younger patients with dislocated intraocular lenses or some other eye problems. This condition should be given immediate medical care.

You can reduce the risk of such complications with the most experienced and professional surgeons at Pristyn Care.

Summary- Complications associated with cataract surgery are: pain, irritation, macular edema, photopsia, infection and corneal edema.

Home Remedies for Cataract?

Certain home remedies and natural methods can help with Cataract symptoms and reduce the risk of developing it. Some effective home remedies for cataracts are:

  • Take a nutritious diet: Foods high in antioxidants help to prevent cataracts and oxidative stress. It also helps to maintain the enzymatic pathways.
  • Eat Seeds and nuts: These are rich in vitamin E which protects the membranes of the eyes from free radicals. This help to improve your eyes' health.
  • Wear sun protection: A sun's UV rays can cause protein oxidation in the eyes which is a cause of cataract formation. It is important to protect your eyes from ultraviolet light by wearing sunglasses.
  • Lifestyle adjustments: According to studies, the formation of cataracts is linked to alcohol consumption and smoking. People with increased drinking frequency are at a higher risk of cataracts. It is possible to reduce the risks of cataracts by avoiding alcohol and smoking.
  • Keep yourself hydrated: Dehydration can accumulate toxins in the body, which increases the risk of health problems. But if you drink enough water, your body detoxifies and removes toxins.
  • Regular eye checkups: Regular eye exams are essential even if you do not have any symptoms, especially after the age of 40.

Summary- Home remedies for cataracts are: take a healthy diet and plenty of fluids, avoid smoking and wear sunglasses.

What to eat in Cataract?

Nutrition in certain foods can reduce the risks of eye disease and loss of vision to some extent, allowing people to eat their way to better eye health. A wide variety of foods can help you maintain good eye health, including:

  • Carrots: The benefits of carrots for the eyes are almost universally known. It contains beta-carotenes, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which the body converts into vitamin A. As a result, they contribute to the maintenance of the eye's surface and the improvement of vision. A carrot a day keeps eye infections at bay and promotes overall eye health.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Carotenoids are responsible for the production of yellow, red, and orange pigments in colourful fruits and vegetables. Boil or bake these vegetables for the best results. The vitamins A and beta carotene in cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkin are good for cataracts.
  • Fish: A healthy diet containing omega-3 fatty acids may reduce a person's risk of cataracts because they reduce one's risk of eye diseases. Tuna, salmon, and sardines are all cold-water fish that you should eat twice a week. In the event you prefer not to eat fish, you may take fish oil supplements.
  • Seeds and Nuts: Nuts and seeds are usually high in Vitamin E which can be beneficial for the membrane of the eyecells, protecting it from damage caused by free radical. The health of your eyes can be improved by eating nuts such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.
  • Whole grains: Individuals who consume more whole grains are less likely to develop cataracts. The consumption of whole grains can also reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Ensure your diet contains whole-grain foods like quinoa, brown rice, whole oats, whole grain pasta and bread.

Summary- Foods to eat in Cataract are: carrots, seeds, nuts, whole grains, fish, fruits and vegetables.

What not to eat in Cataract?

Aside from foods that help keep your eyes healthy, there are also foods that can worsen your cataract and negatively impact the health of your whole body. These include:

  • Processed Meats: A high amount of sodium can be found in salted foods such as hot dogs, bacon, and deli meat. It is possible for high sodium levels to eventually cause high blood pressure, which can lead to a number of eye problems.
  • Ready-to-Eat Foods: The sodium content of canned goods, soup, and tomato sauce is often much higher than the daily sodium recommendation. In addition to causing high blood pressure, consumption of these foods may also cause eye problems. When shopping at the store, try to find salt-free or low-sodium options for your favourite foods.
  • Soft Drinks: Several sweetened drinks, including soda, sports drinks, lemonade, and other sweetened drinks, contain up to ten teaspoons of sugar. Adding excess sugar to your diet makes your body prone to diabetes and heart problems. Diabetes can be the cause of numerous eye-related issues, for example diabetic retinopathy.
  • Alcohol: Drinking alcohol, even though it is not food, may contribute to eye diseases. The risk of developing cataracts increases with excessive drinking habits.
  • Margarine: There are also trans fats in some margarine that can lead to heart disease and vision problems. There is a higher trans fat content in margarine with solid consistency. Margarine spreads are a better option than solid margarine.

Summary- Food items to be avoided in cataracts are: soft drinks, processed foods, alcoholic beverages and margarine.

What are the treatments for cataracts?

It may be possible to improve early cataract symptoms with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. Surgery is the last resort if these do not work.In surgery, when a cloudy lens needs to be replaced, an artificial lens is used.

You may need surgery to remove a cataract if vision impairment is preventing you from engaging in regular activities such as reading, driving, or watching TV. It is possible for you to make a well-informed decision regarding cataract surgery if you understand the risks and benefits of the procedure.

Getting your vision tested regularly can help you avoid developing cataracts. If and when you need treatment, you can consult it with your ophthalmologist. Cataract surgery is usually done on one eye at a time, and takes not more than four to eight weeks apart, if you have cataracts in both eyes.

It is common for those undergoing cataract surgery to also have age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma as well. Consult your doctor if you have other eye conditions besides cataracts. You can find out what cataract surgery is, the risks, the benefits, the alternatives, and the expected results.

Summary- Cataracts can be treated with the help of eye surgery.

Which doctor to consult for Cataract?

Cataract is a condition that involves the eyes. You should consult an ophthalmologist for cataract and only an ophthalmologist can perform cataract surgeries on you.

Summary- You should consult an ophthalmologist for cataracts.

Which are the best medicines for Cataract?

Medicines used to treat Cataract are:

  • Cateyeris Eye Drop
  • Disprin
  • Vasoprin LS
  • Solosprin
  • Nepakick eye drop
  • Ismorin
  • Modlip ASP
  • Nitrofix AS
  • Ecosmin
  • Isotine plus eye drop
  • Just Nac eye drop
Summary- The best medicines for cataracts are: disprin, solosprin, ecosmin, cateyeris eye drop, just nac eye drop and nitrofix AS.

Cataract Treatment without surgery

Once formed, cataracts can not be treated without a surgical procedure. Medicines can help to relieve the symptoms but can cure cataracts or prevent them. However, some home remedies and lifestyle adjustments can help to prevent the formation of cataracts.

Summary- Cataracts can not be treated without eye surgery.

What are the surgical treatments for Cataracts?

There are multiple surgical options with regard to cataracts. Three main types of cataract surgery are:

Phacoemulsification:
A cataract can usually be removed by phacoemulsification within half an hour by minimal sedation. A tiny incision is made around the edge of the cornea, which acts as an opening through the membrane surrounding the lens. The cloudy lens is then broken up into tiny pieces using sound waves. Then an attachment on the probe tip suctions out the broken-down cataract pieces. After the lens particles are removed, an intraocular lens implant (IOL), is placed in the natural lens capsule.

Extracapsular cataract surgery:
This cataract procedure is used when phacoemulsification is not possible. This cataract removal method requires a slightly larger incision, as the cataract must be removed in one piece rather than get fragmented inside the eye. An artificial lens (IOL) is placed inside the same capsular bag as phacoemulsification. It also requires some sutures.

Intracapsular cataract surgery:
It involves a larger incision than extracapsular surgery, which pulls out the entire lens along with the capsule around it. Furthermore, the IOL (intraocular lens) is positioned before the iris.

Summary- The surgical treatments for cataracts are: phacoemulsification, and extracapsular and intracapsular cataract surgery.

How does cataract surgery work?

  • Most cataract surgeries are performed as outpatient procedures in about an hour.
  • In the first stage, your doctor will dilate the pupil of your eye with eyedrops. To numb the area and to assist with relaxation, you will be given local anesthetics. There is a high chance that you may remain conscious and yet a little dazed during surgery if you are given a tranquillizer.
  • Usually, the surgery does not take more than an hour to complete. Sometimes, a laser will be used to make a small cut in the front of your eye. A tiny instrument is inserted through this to rupture the cataract and suction it out
  • A new lens will be fitted, made of plastic, silicone, or acrylic, and the cut will then be closed.
  • It will not be necessary for you to stay overnight at the hospital, but you will need to be driven home by someone.
  • A person with cataracts in both eyes will likely receive two separate surgeries within a few weeks of each other. Taking this step allows the first eye to heal.

Summary- In cataract surgery, your eyes are dilated, then the cataract is fragmented with the help of an incision made and a new lens is inserted.

How long does it take to recover after cataract surgery?

The recovery rate varies from one patient to the other. In most cases, patients can go back to their regular schedule after a complete rest of 2-3 days, however, it might take about 6-8 weeks for complete healing.

Summary- It takes 2 months for complete recovery after cataract surgery.

What is the cost of Cataract treatments in India?

In India, cataract treatment typically costs between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 80,000. Although, the price varies from hospital to hospital and the type of surgery.

Summary- It may cost up to Rs 80000 for cataract treatments in India.

Can the treatment produce permanent results?

An artificial lens replaces the natural lens of the eye and as a result, reduces the possibility of cataracts forming on the lens. In addition, artificial lenses are designed to last a lifetime. This is the key to cataract surgery's effectiveness.

Summary- Yes, cataracts can be permanently cured with the help of surgery.

Who is eligible for the treatment?

You will be considered eligible for cataract treatment if you’re suffering from blurry vision and facing difficulty in carrying out your normal routine due to cataract. The surgery is suitable for someone who meets the following criteria:

  • Wants to get rid of the blurry vision
  • Has a good health condition
  • Doesn’t have serious health issues like diabetes

Summary- People with severe symptoms of cataracts and no serious health issues are eligible for cataract treatment.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Patients with glaucoma and poorly controlled diabetes as well as those with advanced retinopathy are not considered to be good candidates for this surgery. Often, eye doctors who diagnose cataracts will not immediately recommend surgery to these people, since cataracts mature over time, but if cataracts impact daily living, surgery may be recommended.

Summary- People with glaucoma and retinopathy are not eligible for the cataract treatment.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

The following instructions need to be followed after cataract surgery. Follow these Dos and Don’ts for a quick recovery:

Do's:

  • Do apply the eyedrop, if any, regularly or as instructed by your doctor without fail
  • Do take rest for at least 2-3 days before you resume your regular work
  • Do use your eye shield, to protect your treated eyes for at least a week
  • Do shower carefully, without letting soap or shampoo get in your eyes
  • Do reduce reading and screen time for a while
  • Do wear sunglasses when going out or in bright light

Don'ts:

  • Do not drive before 2-3 days after surgery
  • Do not apply make-up on or around your eyes for at least 5-7 days
  • Do not do heavy lifting or any strenuous work
  • Do not stay around dusty areas
  • Do not go swimming atleast or in hot tubs for atleast a week after surgery
  • Do not rub your eyes

Summary- Post-treatment guidelines for cataracts are: avoid driving, swimming and rubbing your eyes, take rest for a few days and apply eye drops.

Is it necessary to treat cataracts?

Cataracts can worsen over time, affecting your vision. Having vision problems can have a significant impact on important skills, such as driving, and loss of vision can negatively affect numerous other activities, including reading, working, and playing sports. A cataract can lead to total blindness if left untreated.

Summary- Yes, it is necessary to treat cataracts as they can lead to vision loss.

What are side-effects of Cataract treatments?

Any surgery has side effects, and cataract surgery is no different. Side effects are usually mild and shouldn't last for more than a week or two. It is still important for patients to know what to anticipate following cataract surgery. There are a number of common side effects that may occur post cataract surgery, which include:

  • Inflammation
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Dislocation of artificial lens
  • Retinal detachment
  • Glaucoma
  • Secondary cataract
  • Loss of vision

Summary- Side-effects of cataract surgery are: bleeding, infection, glaucoma, swelling and vision loss.

Cataract - Outlook / Prognosis

Leaving cataracts untreated can make daily tasks difficult and result in blindness. They don't naturally become smaller, even though some stop growing. Cataract surgeries have become very common now and is also a highly effective procedure, with a success rate of about 90%.

Summary- Cataracts can not go away on their own. You need to undergo an eye surgery to treat cataracts and avoid vision issues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Cataract affects the eyes, especially the lens of the eyes. The lens that is usually clear, becomes cloudy and yellowish, making your vision blurry.

Is cataract surgery painful?

In most cases, cataract surgeries are not painful, and they are very commonly performed. The patients are usually given a mild sedative and eye drop before the surgery to calm the nerves and numb the eye.

Is an Indian or an imported lens better for cataract surgery?

Over the last couple of years, Indian-made intraocular lenses have improved significantly in quality. There is no difference between Indian lenses and imported lenses except for special requirements. You should consult your surgeon for correct guidance.

Is cataract surgery covered by insurance?

Yes, in most cases cataract surgeries are included in your health insurance plans.

What is the main cause of cataract?

An eye's lens is affected by cataracts when the tissue that makes it changes due to ageing or injury.During the ageing process, proteins and fibres within the lens begin to break down, resulting in cloudy or hazy vision. You are more likely to develop cataracts if you have certain inherited genetic disorders that are related to other health issues.

When to have cataract surgery?

You will notice yellow or brown tints in your vision when you have cataracts. Therefore, your vision is distorted and the vision you used to have is no longer as sharp as it once was. This could indicate that cataract surgery is necessary when it becomes difficult to ignore

Which surgery is best for cataract?

Lasik surgery or laser-assisted surgery is one of the most advanced techniques of cataract removal. It is one of the safest and latest forms of cataract surgery. However, it is best to consult your ophthalmologist and follow their recommendation.

How long does cataract surgeries take?

Cataract surgery is not a complicated surgery and takes about 30-45 minutes to complete. In most cases, the patients return home on the day of their surgery.

When will you be able to return to work after cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery usually has a fast recovery rate. You can resume your work life or normal routine after 2-3 days of complete rest. However, you may need to keep wearing your prescribed glasses until advised otherwise by your doctor.

Is cataract hereditary?

It's possible to inherit congenital cataracts or to develop them after a noxious intrauterine event (for instance, rubella). It may take the second or third decade for cataracts linked to a genetic or systemic disease to develop.

Can cataract surgery be done on both eyes at once?

Patients who have cataracts on both their eyes may get the surgery done for both eyes at one sitting, but doctors usually do not recommend on doing this. Like any surgery, healing takes time, doing surgery on both the eyes at once might limit your vision as well as can be more prone to post surgical infections. It is usually adviced to get surgery done on one eye at a time, and let the treated eye heal completely before treating your other eye.

Can cataracts improve vision?

Nearsightedness can be caused by cataracts, and it can even improve the vision of someone who is already nearsighted or farsighted. There are times when people with cataracts are able to see better without glasses, a phenomenon known as "second-sight."

Can early-stage cataracts be reversed?

There are no proven ways to reverse cataracts, the most common way to remove cataracts is by performing cataract surgery. However, you can reduce the risks or slow the progress of the cataract by following some simple guidelines to take good care of your eyes.

References

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Written ByDr. Anurag Agarwal MS - Ophthalmology,MBBSOphthalmology
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