What Is A Cataract, And How Is It Treated?

Cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye as a result of a buildup of protein. This prevents light from passing clearly through the lens, causing a steady decline in vision.

Causes:
  • Age-related: Senile cataracts develop in people over the age of 60 years, but the process may appear under the age of 50 years because of a systemic disorder.
  • Congenital: Although it is not common, some babies are born with cataracts or develop cataracts at a very early age
  • Trauma (e.g. concussion, perforating wounds)
  • Metabolic disorders (e.g. diabetes mellitus); cataracts are 10 times more common in diabetic patients than in the general population
  • Medications (e.g. corticosteroids); long-term use of oral steroids is a well-known cause of cataracts
  • Cigarette smoke - Heavy smokers (15 cigarettes/day or more) have up to three times the risk of cataract as nonsmokers.
  • Alcohol consumption - Heavy drinking has been reported to increase the risk of developing all three types of cataracts.
  • Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, heat injuries and electric discharge

Cataract Surgery Basics
In cataract surgery, the lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens (called an intraocular lens, or IOL) to restore clear vision.
Modern cataract procedure called phacoemulsification or "phaco" involve the use of an ultrasonic energy that breaks up the cloudy lens into small pieces, which are then gently removed from the eye with suction.
This procedure can be performed with smaller incisions promoting faster healing and reducing the risk of cataract surgery complications, such as a retinal detachment.

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