While the younger audience may be familiar with music duo, The Cataracs, the older demographic may know cataracts as life telling us that we’re old.
Whether you’re young, or young at heart, cataracts are totally common and treatments are available.
Although it is known as an old age condition, cases in younger people are increasing every year.
“Recently I’ve seen a lot of younger people getting cataracts. The youngest I’ve seen was 17 years old,” said Dr Ong Chin Tuan, consultant ophthalmologist at Beacon Hospital.
In this blog post, we will explore why our vision gets hazy, the signs and symptoms and treatments that are available.
What is a Cataract?
A cataract is basically clouding of the lens in the eye where a person’s vision may feel a bit like looking through a foggy or frosty window.
Our eyes essentially operate like a camera. As they age, certain parts of the camera, such as the lens, have the tendency breakdown and produce foggy images. Same goes for our eyes.
What Causes Cataracts?
Cataract mostly affects the elderly because the main and most common cause of cataract is aging. As we progress through life, proteins and fibers in the lens break down.
“Our lens will start to get yellowy and cloudy when this happens. It is not a disease that can be transmitted to or from someone,” said Dr Ong.
However, that is not the only cause of cataracts.
Dr Ong added that among other causes of cataracts include excessive exposure to ultraviolet, high myopia (short sightedness), eye injuries and diabetes.
Signs and Symptoms
Although a cloudy and hazy vision is generally the sign of a cataract, they are not the only symptoms.
Some other symptoms of a cataract are:
- Blurred vision.
- Difficulty to read small print.
- Glare or halo while driving at night.
- Contrasting difficulty such as identifying different shades of colour.
- Double vision (typically happens in one eye).
- Change in power of glasses.
Treatments Available for Cataracts
Because cataract occurs when the lens are blurry, the only way to treat it is by replacing the lens with a new and artificial one. This implies that surgery is the only way to treat cataracts.
There are two main surgery techniques available for cataract patients.
Extracapsular cataract surgery (ECCE)
For this “classic” technique, the cataract is physically removed by making a significant cut, big enough to pull out the cataract.
Once the cataract is extracted, a new artificial lens will be inserted to replace the cataract and the cut will be stitched up.
This is a more common choice for surgeons, in which surgeons create only a small incision to insert the ultrasound device, allowing the cataract to be liquified with ultrasonic waves.
The liquified cataract is then sucked out and replaced by a new artificial lens.
Because only a small incision was made, no stitching will be required and recovery is much faster compared to ECCE.