According to the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), cataract is one of the common eye diseases in the country. A cataract is the clouding of the eye lens that damages vision. Cataracts are associated with the aging process that is why it is not unusual to see older people with cataracts. An eye cataract can occur in one eye or both. One consoling aspect is that a cataract affecting one eye cannot spread to the other.
Sometimes people have this notion that a cataract is a tumor or malignant eye growth. Although the symptoms manifest in older individuals, the condition can emerge at birth or congenital and from traumatic injuries. People with diabetes are also prone to cataracts.
How do cataracts affect vision?
A cataract caused by aging affects people’s vision in two ways:
- Protein clusters
Water and protein reside in the eye lens. When the protein forms a cluster, a noticeable cloud will form to cover the lens. The cloud will diminish the sharpness or clarity of the image. It simply means the light rays are faint when transmitted to the retina. Protein clusters cause most of the age-related cases of cataracts.
The cloud formation is not abrupt. A small cloud develops at first and affects only a small area of the lens. Slight changes in vision will already be felt. The cloud grows slowly but steadily, and the deterioration of vision follows simultaneously. In time, the size of the cataract will surge to cover a wider area in the lens. The vision gets cloudier and dimmer. Whereas focusing and seeing is easy before, it becomes problematic with cataracts.
- Changing lens color
The once clear lens during younger years will slowly change in color when people age. Tinting may happen in small quantity at first starting with a brownish shade. It will not affect vision at the onset, but over time, amplified tinting will make reading more difficult and burdensome. This discoloration does not affect the sharpness or consistency of images reaching the retina. Color blindness is a consequence of an advanced stage of lens discoloration.
Are Cataracts Treatable?
- Cataract surgery is a procedure that involves the removal of the cloudy lens. Surgery is imperative if cataracts hamper the person’s routine activities like driving and reading. • Patients undergoing cataract surgery need not be confined in the clinic or hospital. The procedure lasts for an hour or less. The success rate of uncomplicated cataract operations is close to a 100%. Recovering from the surgery takes about two weeks at the most. Patients report significant improvement in vision and remarkable image sharpness after the surgery.
An eye cataract is a likely occurrence as a person ages. Aging is the only probable cause eye doctors will tell patients seeking advice. Perhaps the risk of cataracts and its development can be contained with a healthy diet and good nourishment.
If a proven way is not yet foreseeable, it is suggested that eye check-ups be made on a regular basis, especially for adults nearing the age of fifty. Ideally, a person should see their eye doctor once per year, or when they have a symptom relating to their eye health. A clear vision should be part of an individual’s lifestyle goal when approaching the sunset years.