What are Cataracts?

The lens is a very important part of a camera. It regulates the right amount of light that goes into it to produce amazing pictures. But what if it’s fogged up? The light won’t get in and the photos produced will be murky and indiscernible. Just like the camera lens, the human eyes will not be able to see if their lenses are clouded. When this happens, the eyes are known to have cataracts.

Cataract is an eye disease which involves clouding of the eye because of abnormal development of protein on the lens obstructing light from successfully passing through. The lens is a part of the eye placed between the colored part called the iris and the innermost light-sensitive tissue layer called the retina. Its role is to focus light to the latter.

Cataract is usually associated for visual impairment or vision loss.

What are the different types of cataract?

The lens has three parts or layers. The outermost one is called the capsule, the innermost one is the cortex and between them is the nucleus. These three areas are where cataract usually occurs. The following are the three types of cataract based from the areas affected:

  • Subcapsular cataract. This occurs beneath the capsule. It creates a foggy circle on the lens. People who are diabetic, extremely nearsighted, and who use steroids are prone to having this type of cataract.
  • Nuclear cataract. This cataract is the most common type that occurs due to aging. This causes hardening and yellowing of the lens.
  • Cortical cataract. This is the cloudiness that happens in the lens cortex. This cataract looks like white, steep triangles around the outer boundaries of the lens that point toward the center of the eye. People with diabetes are prone to this type of cataract.

What are causes of cataracts?

Cataract can be age-related but the cause is still unknown. Cataract can be found in babies as well. A baby is born with cataract as a result of trauma, infection or underdevelopment before birth. Cataract can also develop later in childhood. Secondary cataract can be developed as a complication to other medical conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

It can also be caused by frequent exposure to ultraviolet rays, radiation, and prolonged use of certain substances and drugs like steroids. Traumatic cataract is formed due to eye injury, inflammation, or even surgery. 


What are the signs and symptoms of cataracts?

It may start unnoticed, but over time, patient’s vision will begin to blur a little. Light from the sun, lamp or other light sources may begin to become a little too bright or intense. Colors may not be as vivid and may seem faded. Nuclear cataract in its early development will give the patient a “second sight” or a vision improvement but only temporarily as the cataract will become more profound. A patient of subcapsular cataract will not be able to determine any symptom until the cloudiness fully develops.

How are cataracts treated?

Cataracts are treated through surgery. But patients can also use glasses, contact lenses, bifocals and other vision aids.

Patients who undergo surgery will have their affected lens removed and mostly replaced with an artificial lens called intraocular lens (IOL).