Have you seen any elderly person having white pearl like formation in their eyes? Are you worried about this? Then it’s time to know what is this white pearl, why is this formed and how does it affects the elderly person?
The answer to all your questions is term known as “Cataract.” Cataract is a dense, cloudy area that forms in the lens of the eye. It begins when protein in the eye forms clumps that prevent the lens from sending clear images to the retina. Cataracts are more common in elderly people and they are leading cause of vision loss in people over the age 40. Cataracts develop slowly and interfere with vision ending up with cataracts in both eyes, but not at the same time. Cataracts may be present at the time of birth or appear shortly or at some time of infancy or childhood. But the chances of congenital cataracts are very less as compared to age related cataracts. It is estimated that around 24.41 million Americans are having this problem. In India, every year there are as many as 10 million cases undergoing the treatment.
- Blurry vision
- Double vision in the affected eye
- Nearsightedness in elderly people
- Seeing colours as faded
- Sensitivity to glare
- Trouble with eye glasses or contact lenses not working well
- Troubled vision at night
- Overproduction of oxidants
- Radiation therapy
- Ultraviolet radiation
- Use of steroids for longer time
- Abusive use of drug or alcohol
- Exposure to sun
- Eye injuries
- Family history of cataract
- High blood pressure
- Older age
- Radiations form X-rays and cancer treatment
Diagnosis is often done by eye doctor (ophthalmologist) by performing a comprehensive eye test to check for cataracts. The test will include eye chart test and tonometry to measure eye pressure. Other tests include checking for light sensitivity and perception to colours.
If your vision can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, then your eye doctor will give you prescription. Most of the doctors suggest surgery, if the cataracts begin to affect your quality of life or interfere in your ability to drive or read. For most people there is no rush to remove the cataract, but they worsen faster in people with diabetes. One of the advanced surgical procedures known as Phacoemulsification involves use of ultrasonic device is used to break the lens apart and remove cloudy lens. The other surgery known as Extracapsular Cataract Extraction involves removing the cloudy part of the lens and leaving the elastic capsule covering the lens which is partially attached to permit the implantation of artificial intraocular lens.
Cataract surgery is generally done on an outpatient basis, which means you can leave hospital after the surgery. Though the surgery is safe, but it carries risk of bleeding and infection. It is very important to regularly examine your eye by eye doctor. Healing occurs in a week. In India, cataract surgery is widely performed using high end techniques, shorter recovery time and is cost effective too. An average cataract surgery cost in India is around Rs. 60,000, while in US it costs around Rs. 2,00,000.
Recurrence of cataract is frequent in elderly people and people with diabetes; following are the certain measures to prevent it from recurring:
- Eat fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants
- Keep diabetes and other medical conditions in check
- Maintain healthy weight and diet
- Protect your eyes from UVB rays by wearing sunglasses
- Quit smoking
- Regular examination of eyes
Consult your eye doctor if you or any person in your family is affected by cataract, because without eye sight the world is dark.
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Radha K. Iyer is a contributing writer on Treatum Blog. When she is not writing, she can be found reading health and food blogs or experimenting with her culinary skills.
Disclaimer: The entire content of this article is for information purpose only and is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information. It is not a substitute for professional care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem and disease.