Cataract, formation and causes
Eye Matters
November 6, 2009
Cataract, formation and causes

Did you know that cataracts are the leading cause of low vision in adults? In over 95% of cases, the treatment of cataracts and the restoration of good vision is usually successful.{{more}}

The word cataract is derived from the Greek and means “waterfall”. This is because in the ancient times patients used to compare the blurry vision caused by cataracts to a cascading waterfall.

So how are cataracts formed?

First let us talk about the normal eye. Inside our eyeball is a lens and this lens is responsible for focusing images. It is normally transparent. When light enters our eyes, it passes through the lens and is focused on the retina. The retina then takes the information and transmits the image to the brain.

When this lens becomes cloudy, we call it a cataract. This cloudy lens blocks the passage of light through the eye and as a result the image that reaches our brain via our retina is cloudy and causes poor vision.

So what causes cataracts?

Cataracts are caused by a change in the chemical composition of one’s lens. Our natural aging process is the most common cause for this type of change. As we grow older, the lens which is normally flexible and clear becomes harder and often more cloudy.

This really means that anyone who lives long enough will eventually develop some form of cataract.

Cataracts can present at any age, although they are most commonly seen after the age of 40.

Congenital cataracts are cataracts that present at birth. Traumatic cataracts are caused by an injury to the eye. Eye diseases and infections can cause cataracts. Overuse of certain medications such as steroids have been known to cause cataracts. Also conditions such as glaucoma, diabetes and eye tumors may contribute to the development of a cataract. This is called secondary cataract.

As the cataract develops, vision loss follows. This is usually a gradual process.

Let’s talk about some of the symptoms of cataracts.

  • Patients may feel as if there is a film over the eyes
  • Sometimes they complain that their glasses are dirty and no matter how often they clean them there still seems to be a haze over the eyes.
  • Colors tend to appear less brilliant.
  • Some complain that they see glare around lights
  • Some complain about having difficulty reading or driving
  • Others may complain of double vision
  • And most of all blurring or dimming of vision

Next week we will discuss modern methods for the diagnosis and treatment of Cataracts

Stay well!

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us Send questions to: [email protected]

Tel: 784 456-1210