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Cataract A Common Eye Problem of the Aged

Dr. Sunil Jain

Did you know that many homoeopathic remedies are available to prevent senile cataract? You can be saved from the pain of surgery or the fear of impending blindness if only you would start homoeopathic treatment on time.


Cataract also referred to, as lens opacity is an opacity or cloudiness in the natural lens of the eye. It is a degenerative process leading to opacity of lens fibres. It is the leading cause of blindness worldwide and represents an important cause of visual impairment in India. The development of cataracts in the adult is related to ageing, sunlight exposure, smoking, poor nutrition, eye trauma, systemic diseases, and certain medications such as steroids.

The lens is the part of the eye that helps focus light on the retina. It is a biconvex transparent structure, made of lens fibres, which are modified epithelial cells. The retina is the eye's light-sensitive layer that sends visual signals to the brain. In a normal eye, light passes through the lens and gets focused on the retina. The lens converges rays of light on to the macula, so that a clear image of the object seen is formed. To help produce a sharp image, the lens must remain clear.

The lens is made mostly of water and protein. The protein is arranged to let light pass through and focus on the retina. Sometimes some of the protein clumps together. This can start to cloud small areas of the lens, blocking some light from reaching the retina and interfering with vision. This is cataract.

In its early stages, a cataract may not cause a problem. The cloudiness may affect only a small part of the lens. However, over time, the cataract may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see. Because less light reaches the retina, your vision may become dull and blurry. Cataract won't spread from one eye to the other, although many people develop cataract in both eyes.

Classification of Cataract
Cataract can be classified according to origin and the cause of the disease.

Age-related cataract: Most cataracts are related to aging. The most common is ageing-with growing age most people develop some opacity ion the lens. It develops slowly and painlessly with a gradual loss of vision. Visual problems may be heralded by difficulty seeing at night, halos around lights or glare when looking at lights, and finally, decreased visual acuity, even in daylight. Adult cataracts are classified as immature, mature, or hypermature. A lens that has some remaining clear areas is referred to as an immature cataract. A mature cataract is completely opaque; a hypermature cataract has a liquefied surface that leaks through the capsule and may cause inflammation.

Most people develop some clouding of the lens after the age of 60. Most people with cataract have it in both eyes, although one eye may be worse than the other. Many people with cataract don't even know they have it.

Congenital cataract: Some babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes. They develop it during the development of the lens. These types of cataracts are developed due to some disturbance at a certain phase of growth of the lens. Congenital cataracts rarely cause visual disturbances.

Secondary cataract: Cataracts are more likely to develop in people who have certain other health problems, such as diabetes. Also, cataracts are sometimes linked to steroid use.

Traumatic cataract: Cataracts can develop soon after an eye injury, or years later. The injury could be mechanical such as concussion or contusion, chemical due to systemic absorption of chemicals, radiational trauma or due to passage of electric current through the body.

These symptoms can also be a sign of other eye problems. If you have any of these symptoms, check with your eye care professional.

When a cataract is small, you may not notice any changes in your vision. Cataracts tend to grow slowly, so vision gets worse gradually. Some people with a cataract find that their close-up vision suddenly improves, but this is temporary. Vision is likely to get worse again as the cataract grows.

Symptoms

  • Cloudy, fuzzy, foggy, or filmy vision
  • Changes in the way you see color
  • Frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription
  • Impaired vision at night, especially while driving, caused by effects of bright lights
  • Problems with glare from lamps or the sun
  • Halos around lights
  • Double vision
  • White spot or cloudy spot in the lens of the eye (the pupil, instead of being black appears milky or white)

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