Cataract - Symptoms

What are the symptoms of a Cataract?
The most common symptoms of a Cataract are:
  • Cloudy or blurry vision
  • Colors seem faded
  • Glare with oncoming Headlights or when driving at night/li>
  • Lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright
  • A halo may appear around lights
  • Poor night vision
  • Double vision or multiple images in one eye (This symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.)
  • Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses

Cataract surgery was invented in India!!
Circa 600 years BC the Indian sage Sushrut, in his textbook described cataract surgery with local anaesthesia in the days when the rest of the world were climbing trees and huddling in caves! He also used plastic surgery techniques including forehead flaps and described over 300 surgeries in all.

The Arab doctor Shams UdDeen, described Glaucoma hundreds of years ago and spoke of Cataract as white water in the eye or “maiabiyat” a term still used today in the middle east. The words Cataract Surgery, inspire anxiety and denial in people, mostly because they are ill informed about the disease and its treatment. If we are fortunate enough to live to a ripe old age, we will develop cataracts. For indeed the most common type of cataract is part of a natural process of ageing. A cataract is simply opacification or clouding of the human lens in the eye so that light is not focused properly on the Retina leading to a blurred image.

The most frequent symptoms of Cataract are:
Diminished vision and glare – In the early stages only distance vision may suffer or the oncoming headlights at night can cause unbearable glare. As it progresses reading vision can suffer along with a change in spectacle number. People who were forced to wear reading glasses will find that they can go without them. This is called Second Sight and indicates the formation of a Cataract. Sometimes because of swelling of the cataract the pressure in the eye goes up and the patient complains of mild heaviness or headache. Cataract can develop at any age. Newborns can have cataract due to infection in the womb commonly due to rubella. Young children can develop cataract due to metabolic imbalances and infections for eg. the inability to digest milk is sometimes associated with cataract. Any blow to the eye in play and even severe malnutrition can lead to cataract in childhood. The use of steroid containing skin creams for months, putting steroid anti allergy eye drops for a long period of time and exposure to sunlight can cause cataracts in the 20-40 year age group. Cataract is seen in glassblowers and in foundry workers due to infrared rays and so its advisable to have protective dark spectacles in these professions. Diabetes, other eye diseases, Glaucoma and even any eye surgery or retina detachment lead to Cataract. Anytime there is an internal eye disease, Cataract is the likely result!

In old age the most common type of Cataract called Senile Cataract is seen. This is because the proteins in the human lens congeal and coagulate like the egg white in a frying pan leading to a whiteness. Finally, exposure to radiation for eg. Nuclear power plant technicians and people undergoing radiotherapy for cancer of the head and neck are likely to develop Cataract.

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