A cataract occurs when the lens, a transparent body behind the cornea, becomes opaque and prevents the light from reaching the back of the eye.
The crystalline lens is the lens of the eye. It could be compared to the lens of a camera since, like the lens of the camera, the lens helps focus the rays in the eye to make them converge on the retina. It allows the focusing of the eye by modifying itself when an object is closely watched.
Over the years, the components of the lens become less transparent and develop opacities. This condition is called "cataract" and is more common in the elderly. It is estimated that close to 50% of people over the age of 65 are affected, representing 800,000 Canadians.
The exam provided by your optometrist, should include cataract checking.
There is a wide variety of cataracts:
- Congenital cataract: present at birth
- Traumatic cataract: caused by an accident. This could in many cases be avoided if eye protection is provided (safety glasses at work and visor in sports)
- Senile cataract: the one we will cover below
WHAT IS A CATARACT?
A normal and inevitable phenomenon of aging, just like white hair. It is the third leading cause of blindness in North America. It usually starts in one eye and then affects the other a little later. It causes vision problems.
- Blurred and confused vision
- Increased sensitivity to intense light
- Feeling to see through a frosted glass
- Colors lose their luster
- Clearer vision with one eye
- Double vision of an eye
- Need for better lighting for activities
- Improved eyesight in some cases
Some factors favor its appearance:
- Diseases: diabetes, Paget's disease, hypothyroidism
- Drugs: steroids, for example
- Radiations: U. V., I. R., ionizing radiation
If you seem to have one of these symptoms, a complete eye exam at your optometrist will clear out the question.
THE CATARACT, WHAT IT IS NOT
Contrary to popular belief, it is not a veil over the eye, but rather in the eye.
It is also not a skin that covers the eye or a substance foreign to the eye. It does not cause a tingling or burning sensation, does not run the eyes and does not hurt.
This is when the lens, a transparent body located behind the cornea, becomes opaque and prevents light from penetrating the back of the eye.
Your optometrist will use specialized equipment to detect the presence of a cataract and monitor its development.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE CATARACT?
It is often advisable to change your eyeglass prescription regularly to ensure the best vision possible during the development of a cataract. It is sometimes necessary to make these changes frequently, if the evolution is fast.
If you are easily dazzled by the sun, your optometrist will recommend the use of suitable sunglasses.
The way we use our eyes has no effect on the evolution of a cataract. You do not have to change your pace of life, you can read, write, sew or perform work requiring great care and attention without making your case worse.
When your cataract will interfere with your daily activities, the optometrist will refer you.
TREATMENT OF THE CATARACT
The ophthalmologist will remove an opaque lens. This is done most of the time under local anesthesia. The patient can get up after a few hours and the eye bandage will be removed the next day in most cases. We operate only one eye at a time.
During surgery, we can replace the opaque lens with an artificial lens called implant. The technique consists on positioning a lens behind the iris in the normal place of the eye lens.
Cataract is a normal phenomenon. Thus, anyone living long enough is likely to end up with this problem one day. Cataracts can lead to blindness and require more visits to your eye specialist.
(Source : Association des Optométristes du Québec)