Cataract is a type of eye disease. In this ophthalmologic condition, the lenses become cloudy and opaque and this causes a disturbance in the vision of the person. Cataracts are common, often develop slowly and can affect one or both eyes, especially when aging.
Cataracts are formed when protein and water accumulate in the eyes. As people age, around 50-60, these proteins start to build up and accumulate as clouds, thus blurs the vision. Cataracts may also develop due to other medical conditions, like diabetes, from intake of medicines such as corticosteroids or diuretics and also due to ultraviolet light, or radiation. These are called secondary cataracts. Cataracts can also be inherited right from birth or due to some injury.
The most prominent symptom of cataract is blurred cloudy foggy, or filmy vision. Changes in color reception and nearsightedness are two common symptoms in elderly people. People face glare problem during the day and night, perceive double vision and have troubles with lenses and eye glasses.
In the early stages of cataract, vision can be improved using new glasses, strong bifocals, magnification, appropriate lighting or other visual aids. This way, further cataract can be prevented. But in the later stages, surgeries are performed to remove cataract. Cataract surgery is simple and painless and very successful in restoring vision. There are three standard forms of surgery for cataracts – a standard monofocal intraocular lens (IOL), a multifocal intraocular lens (IOL) or an accommodating lens.
In order to diagnose cataract, the doctor will go through the medical history and recommend several diagnostic tests. These tests include visual acuity test, slit lamp examination and retinal examination. A special device called an ophthalmoscope is also used to examine the lens for signs of a cataract.
Cataract can be treated in two ways, depending on the severity of the condition. In the initial stages, the blur or fuzzy vision can be cured with the help of glasses and contact lenses. In this case, no surgical operation is needed. If glasses fail to clear to vision impairment, then surgery is the only method to remove the protein cloud formation on the retina and clear the vision. Cataract surgery is done as an outpatient basis and is simple and painless. In cataract surgery, the protein clouded lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens. This artificial lens is called an intraocular lens and is positioned in the same place as the natural lens. It remains a permanent part of the eye. If both eyes have cataracts and surgery needs to be done on both of them, the surgery on the second eye is generally planned at least a week after the first eye. This is done to help regain comfort and proper vision in the first operated eye. After operation, the person may feel discomfort for a few days but this goes away in a week’s time.
People should immediately consult a doctor when they develop symptoms of cataract or any visual problems or disturbances. Sudden vision changes, such as blurred or foggy vision, double vision or flashes of light, sudden eye pain, or sudden headache need to be supervised by ophthalmologists.
Surgical operations for cataract or blurred vision may not be needed if visual aids like glasses and contact lenses can improve vision. First or earlier stages do not require much treatment and cataract can be prevented from worsening vision further.
There are some complications associated with cataract surgery. It carries a risk of infection and bleeding. Cataract surgery increases the risk of retinal detachment and endophthalmitis. People face decrease in vision along with pain in both the cases. Their vision gets blurred along with unilateral visual field defects, flashes of light, or floating spots. People may also face less serious but more common problems like corneal edema and cystoid macular edema. These occur because of persistent swelling at the front of the eye in corneal edema or back of the eye in cystoid macular edema. Even after months or years after successful cataract surgery, people may face problems like vision deterioration or problems with glare and light scattering. This is called posterior lens capsule opacification which occurs due to thickening of the back or posterior capsule surrounding the implanted lens. When small parts of natural lens remain I the eyes after removal, cells start growing and cause this defect.
Healing generally occurs within eight weeks, which is a comparatively short time period. Patients are advised to be more cautious and avoid straining their eyes for at least one month post operation. Patients are also advised to use eye shields and eye patches for some times after the surgery to avoid any complication. Eye drops according to doctor’s advice must be taken regularly. People must be extra cautious to prevent water, soap and pressure on the eyes.
Cataract surgery is done on an outpatient basis, that is, the patients go home on the day of surgery itself. Healing generally takes a short period of time and is around eight weeks. On the initial days, people feel discomfort but this goes away as the person gets more used to the artificial lens. Vision also gets clearer with passing days, unless there be other complications or eye related problems.
Initial stage cataract which do not require surgical operations are less expensive as these can be treated with glasses, contact lens use etc. But, cost of surgical operations for cataract treatment is high and involves around Rs 1,50,000- RS. 2,00,000/-.
Unless there be any other eye diseases like glaucoma, treatments for cataract are permanent. Cataract surgery is simple and painless and yields permanent results with rare complications. After cataract surgery, people get clearer vision and blurs and clouds from the eyes disappear.
There are alternative ways to treat cataract. Apart from surgery, ayurvedic treatment also helps to reverse cataract. Taking proper intake of balanced diet will also help cure cataract. In Ayurveda, cataract is known as timira or linga nasha. Early stages of cataract can be effectively treated with Ayurveda. Foods like eggs, fish (fatty fish like salmon) , green leaves, fruits like avocado, bell peppers, carrots etc. help to reverse cataract and prevent it. Changes in the lifestyle like increasing light in the house, limiting night driving, keeping diabetes under control also helps to prevent cataracts and provides longevity of vision.
500- Rs 5,00,000 /-