Cataract Symptoms and Treatment

by Rachel on December 19, 2015

Cataracts involve alterations in clarity of the natural lens within the eye thus gradually degrading the quality of vision. The natural lens is nested underneath the colored part of the iris in the pupil region. The lens cannot be directly seen unless it becomes immensely cloudy. The lens plays a critical part in concentrating light on the retina at the rear side of the eye. The retina converts light into a neurological cue that the brain perceives as vision.

Development of Cataract

Cataract progression is typically an extremely lengthy process of natural aging, yet may also occur sporadically in a rapid pace. In many cases, cataract patients continue their lives without even having the slightest idea they have the condition since the alterations in their vision progressed too slow. Cataract usually affects both eyes, yet it is not impossible for the condition to progress in a single eye faster than the other eye. Cataract cases are very common and affect around 60% of individuals over the age of 55 years old. More than 1.5 million surgeries to correct cataract are performed annually in the U.S. alone.

Professionals have measured that visual impairments associated with cataract is responsible for more than 7 million-doctor visits in the U.S. The number of cases is expected to increase as a large population of people approach their retirement years. Once an individual develops the condition, they start to have a hard time doing activities they require or want to do for daily living or for leisure time. Common reports of cataract patients include difficulty of driving during nighttime, sports participation including basketball and baseball, reading books, traveling to new places, and other activities requiring focus.

Causes of Cataracts

The need for cataract treatment emerges due to a variety of causes. Basically, the lens is made largely of protein and water. Protein in the eye is needed for maintaining clarity of vision and therefore it is important to maintain the stability of protein production in the eye. Over time, the lens protein structures are changed thereby leading to slow but imminent clouding of the lens. In rare cases, cataract are seen in children during birth or at an early childhood, leading to the conclusion that it may be caused by inheritance from parents or grandparents.

Other common causes of cataract include severe trauma to the eye, optical surgery, inflammation of the eye, and so on. Major medical conditions including diabetes may also contribute to the need for cataract operation. Lifestyle habits including too much exposure to the sun’s UV rays and excessive smoking may also result in cataract.

Treatment for Cataract

Standard cataract treatment is commonly performed in a hospital facility or ambulatory surgery clinic. The most typical form of surgery used to correct the condition is through phacoemulsification. Through application of an operating microscope, a surgeon makes a delicately small incision on the eye’s surface in or around the cornea.

Another possible treatment is lens implant via intracapsular cataract surgery. This method requires a much wider incision as opposed to its counterpart, extracapsular surgery. The surgeon removes the whole lens alongside the surrounding capsule.

Cost of Treatment

The average cost of cataract treatment in the U.S. is roughly around $ 3,280 per eye. Nonetheless, expect to pay for other out-of-pocket expenses including reading glasses, specialized procedures that aren’t covered by your plan, etc.

Sophia Liew writes for Optometrist Singapore which helps patients suffering from common eye conditions such as cataract and glaucoma.

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