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Cataracts & Cataract surgery

In recent yars there's been a number of advances in how we identify and treat eye cataracts. The result is that the vast majority of people who may have this visual impairment have some hope of regaining a good proportion, or in some cases all, of their eyesight via cataract surgery or other very simple eye treatments.

Put simply, an eye cataract is a clouding of the transparent lens of the eye. This lens is normally clear. People often assume that a cataract is a tumour or growth of skin over the eye. As the cataract grows/develops, light is not able to be focused on the retina correctly and so this results in an unclear image.

In many cases only a small part of the lens may be affected, therefore this results in a small reduction of vision quality and not complete obstruction. When this is present there is no need to undergo cataract surgery or to remove the cataract. However when a large portion of the lens becomes cloudy, sight may be badly impaired or even lost completely until the cataract can be removed surgically.

Although it is common to think that cataracts can be spread from one eye to the other this is in fact not the case, although it is possible for them to develop in both eyes at the same time. Cataracts usually develop gradually over many years though they are not the result of overuse of the eye nor are they related to cancer.

There are many types of cataracts - most of which are caused by a chemical change in the eye lens. These changes may be caused by aging, hereditary or birth defects, eye injuries or certain diseases or conditions of the eye or body.

The most common cataracts are senile cataracts where, as a normal part of the aging process, the lenses harden and turn cloudy. Senile cataracts can occur from as early as 40 years of age.

Injuries to the eye at any age may also bring on cataracts - a puncture, cut, blow or burn can damage the lens causing what is known as a trauma cataract. Infections or diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, may also cause the lens to cloud resulting in secondary cataracts.

How to prevent cataracts:

There are a number of recent studies that show that those living in high altitudes, or that spend a lot of time in the sun may develop cataracts earlier than others. Therefore, Ophthalmologists recommend wearing sunglasses and a shade providing hat in very sunny conditions to reduce the effects of the suns UV rays.

The location of the cataract and its density have a lot to do with what symptoms are experienced and how rapidly the symptoms progress. When symptoms do begin to appear new glasses, strong bifocals, magnification, appropriate lighting or other visual aids may improve vision for a while.

Cataract surgery is a very frequent operation and one of the most successful with about 90% of people regaining useful vision between 20:40 and 20:20. An operation should therefore be considered as soon as poor vision start to affect your enjoyment of life or your ability to maintain an independent lifestyle.



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