5 Things You Need To Know About Cataracts

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Guest post/Bio: Meghan Greene is a vital part of the SEO and Content Development team at The Marketing Zen Group & EyeCare 20/20. Meghan attends Elon University, double majoring in Marketing and International Business.

Cataracts are an extremely common problem, however, many people are uninformed about this medial happening. It is so common that by the age of 80, the majority of Americans already suffer from them. A cataract is the gradual clouding of the eye’s lens, which is the leading cause of age-related vision loss. The word originated from the Greek ‘Kataraktes’ and meant something rushing or swooping down. Doctors in the 16th century started calling the clouding of the eyes cataracts, because they felt something was swooping in and robbing the eye of light. There is a multitude of relevant information about cataracts; the following are the 5 things you absolutely need to know.
1. The DifferentTypes and Symptoms
There are three different classifications for cataracts. The first is a subcapsular cataract, which occurs at the back of the lens. People with diabetes, among other problems, have a greater risk of developing this type of cataract. The second type is a nuclear cataract, which forms deep in the nucleus of the lens. This is the most common type of cataract, and is associated with aging. Cortical cataracts are the final classification and are characterized by white, wedge-like opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the center. This type of cataract targets the lens cortex, which surrounds the central nucleus.
The most common symptoms of a cataract are:
• Cloudy or blurry vision
• Colors seem faded
• Poor night vision
• Frequent prescription changes in glasses or contacts
• Double vision (This problem may clear as the cataract grows)
• Headlights, lamps, or sunlight appear too bright
2. What causes cataracts, and who is at greater risk?
The lens of the eye, which focuses light onto the retina at the back of the eye, is made up of mostly water and protein. Cataracts are the result of excessive protein build-up or clumping which then causes the ”cloudy” affect that is seen on the surface of the eye. Cataracts are generally considered to be a by-product of aging, however, other factors can accelerate the problem.
The risk factors include:
• Diabetes
• Personal habits such as smoking or significant alcohol consumption
• Family history
• Hypertension
3. UV Light
In recent years researchers have found that exposure to UV light is a catalyzing factor in the development of cataracts. Void of oxygen, UV lights can harm the proteins in lenses and place great stress on the eye. To protect against this force, where sunglasses and a covering hat as much as possible when exposed.
4. How a cataract is detected?
A general physician may be able to spot cataracts, but an ophthalmologist must conduct a series of exams to officially diagnose a patient. These exams include:
• Avisual acuity test, commonly referred to as the eye chart test, measures how well a patient sees at various distances.
• A dilated eye exam is where drops are placed in the eye to widen or dilate the pupils. A special magnifying lens is then used to examine the retina and optic nerve.
• Tonometry, an instrument that measures the pressure inside the eye.
The methods of eye exam listed above lack the ability to catch the cataract before it happens. In today’s tech savvy eraearly cataract detectiontechnology is increasing. Early detection is key because cataracts grow slowly; so early intervention can delay or even prevent further clouding of the lens. A tool acquired by ALPHAEON, the HD Analyzer, is revolutionizing the way ophthalmologists test those at risk. The HD Analyzer allows doctors to assess the light scatter inside the eye and develop an effective strategy to rid the patient of their cataracts.
5. A Surgical Fix
To date there isn’t a way to prevent or cure cataracts, however, Dr. Silverman from EyeCare 20/20 – an award winning LASIK and cataract surgeon explained that surgery is an effective way to combat the surrounding vision problems. Two methods of surgery exist, a traditional method and a laser surgery option. Both methods are considered to be relatively painless and take anywhere from 5-15 minutes to complete per eye.
In the traditional cataract surgery, the ophthalmologist uses a hand-held metal blade to make an incision in the eye. The incision is made where the sclera meets the cornea and in the space created the surgeon breaks up and removes the cataract. Then the surgeon implants an intraocular lens (IOL) to replace the cloudy lens.
The newest and most innovative form of cataract surgery is laser surgery. Pre-operation a patient is required to use special eye drops that dilate and prepare the eye. During the surgery a small incision is made in the cornea with a laser. Then a special probe is inserted into the cataract mass to break up and suction out the cloudy matter. The final step is to replace the defective lens with an IOL.

Cataracts are a common happening globally for those aged 40-60. To best prepare for the possibility of cataracts stay informed, continue having regular eye checkups, and eliminate unhealthy habits from your life.

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