Cataract is a dense, cloudy area that forms in the lens of the eye. It starts appearing when protein in the eye form clumps that prevent the lens from sending clear images to the retina.
The retina works by converting the light that comes through the lens into signals. Retina sends the signals to the optic nerves, which carries them to the brain.
Cataract develops slowly and eventually interferes with your vision. You might endup with cataracts in both eyes, but they usually donot form at the same time. This condition is common in older people.
• Clouded, bIurred or dim vision
• Sensitivity to light and glare
• Need brighter light for reading and other activities
• Fading or yellowing of colors
• Increasing difficulty with vision at night
• Seeing “halos” around lights
• Double vision in a single eye
• Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
Initially, the cloudiness in your vision caused by a cataract may affect only a small part of the eye’s lens and you just can’t notice the change in your vision that time. As the cataract grows larger, it may lead to more noticeable symptoms.
The causes of formation of cataracts includes –
• an overproduction of oxidants
• radiation therapy
• ultraviolet radiation
• long time use of steroids and other medications
• certain diseases, such as diabetes
Physiological reason –
The lens of the eye mainly contains water and proteins. The protein is arranged in a specific way that keeps the lens clean and allows light & pass through it to focus a clear image on the surface of the retina. With growing age, some of the protein binds together and begins to blur a small area of the lens. Over the time, cataracts may become denser on cloud more than the lens, making it harder to see. It should be noted that cataracts are not growth or tumors.
There are different type of cataracts. They are classified based on where and how they develop in your eye.
• Nuclear cataracts
These form in the middle of the lens and cause the nucleus, or the center, to become yellow or brown. Advanced yellowing or browning of the less can lead to difficulty distinguishing between shades of colour.
• Cortical cataracts
These are wedge shaped opacities or streaks that form around the edges of the nucleus. As it slowly progresses, the streaks extend to the center and interfere with light passing through the center of the lens
• Posterior capsular cataracts
It form faster than previous two types and affect the back of the lens. There often interferes with your reading vision, reduces your vision in bright light and causes glare or halos around lights at night. These types tend to progress faster than other types.
• Congenital cataracts
These are present at birth or form during a baby’s first year, are less common than age related cataracts.These cataracts may be genetic, or associated with an intrauterine infection or trauma.
These cataracts also may be due to certain conditions, such as myotonic dystrophy, galactosemia, neurofibromatosis type 2 or rubella. These don’t always affect vision, but if they do they are usually removed soon after detection-
• Secondary cataracts
These are caused by disease or medications. Diseases that are linked with cataract development include glaucoma and diabetes. Long term use of steroids such as prednisone and other medications can also causes these types of cataracts.
Risk Factors –
Factors increasing cataract risk includes-
• Increasing age
• Over exposure to sunlight
• High blood pressure
• Previous eye injury
• Previous eye surgery
• Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
• Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
To determine whether you have a cataract, your doctor may perform an eye examination with several tests, including –
• Visual acuity test
• Slit-lamp examination
• Retinal exam
If you’re unable or uninterested in surgery, doctor may be able to help you manage your symptoms. They suggest stronger eyeglasses, magnifying lenses or sunglasses with an anti-glare coating.
Surgery is recommended when cataracts prevent you from going about your daily activities, such as reading or driving. It is also performed when cataracts interfere with the treatment of other eyeproblem.
Methods of surgery includes –
It involves the use of ultrasound waves to break the lens apart and remove the pieces.
• Extracapsular surgery
It involves removing the cloudy part of the lens through along incision in the cornea. After surgery, an artificial intraocular lens is placed where the natural lens was placed earlier.
Surgery to remove a cataract is generally very safe and has a high success rate. Some of the risk of cataract surgery include infection, bleeding, retired detachment, though incidences of all those complications are less than 1%. Most people can go home the same day of their surgery.
To reduce your risk of developing cataracts –
• protect your eyes from UVB rays by wearing sunglasses outside
• have regular eye check ups
• stop smoking
• maintain a healthy weight
• keep diabetes and other medical conditions in check
• eat fruits and vegetables having antioxidants
Ayurvedic Perspective –
In Ayurveda, cataracts are called timings or lingas of ours. When the lens of the eye loses its transparency, vision is blocked.One of the properties of wadding is that it dries things up. This condition is known as cataract.
If started at an early stage, cataract treatment in Ayurveda is very effective. During Ayurvedic treatment the goal is to reduce the deteriorated body energy and nourish, and strengthen the nerves and tissues of the eye.
There are various herbal remedies for the treatment of cataract in Ayurveda such as –
• Mahatriphla Ghrita
Triphla in it provides nourishment and strengthens the nerves and other tissues of the eyeball, while ghee in balanced by exacerbated vata.
• Triphla Churna
It should be taken 5gm and a glass of water added to it in the evening. Cover and keep aside for 12 hours. Use this filtrate for both eyewash and intake.
• Chandrodaya Varti
It is an external drug used to treat coloracts in Ayurveda. It can be applied to the eyes. As it is slightly irritating in nature, it causes tears in the eyes and promotes blood circulation.
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