A cataract is a condition that results in vision problem due to the clouding of the lens in the eye. Majority of cataracts are related to ageing; being very common in the elderly. It can affect both or only one eye but does not spread from one eye to the other. Clouded or blurred vision due to cataracts can make it difficult to carryout normal day to day activities such as reading or driving a car (especially at night).

Most of the cataracts progress at a slow rate and hence, the eyesight remains unaffected at an early stage. But in the course of time, cataracts gradually start affecting the vision. Initially, cataract can be managed with eyeglasses and proper room lighting. But, a surgery might be needed if impaired vision interferes with the day to day activities.

Cataracts are the outcome of the accumulation of protein in the lens of the eye, resulting in a blur. This does not allow the light from passing clearly through the lens, leading to some vision loss. The formation of new lens cells on the outside of the lens, and the accumulation of older cells in the center of the lens, results in cataract development.

The lens helps to focus the light or an image on the retina- a light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A normal eye functions in a way that it allows the light to pass through the transparent lens towards the retina. On reaching the retina, the light gets converted into nerve signals which are then sent to the brain.

In order for the retina to receive a sharp image, it is necessary that the lens must be clear. A cloudy lens due to cataract, results in a blurred image.

Types of cataracts include:
• Age-related cataracts- These cataracts form with age.
• Congenital cataracts- Babies are sometimes born with cataracts due to an infection, injury, or poor development prior to birth or it may develop during childhood.
• Secondary cataracts- These develop due to medical conditions such as diabetes, or exposure to toxic substances, certain drugs, ultraviolet light or radiation.
• Traumatic cataracts- These form post eye injury.

Cataracts are one of the most common causes of vision loss, especially as people age, but they are treatable. As most cataracts develop with age, they cannot be reversed. If cataract is not significantly affecting a person’s lifestyle, it does not require removal. A cataract may not be needed to be removed right away if a person’s lifestyle isn’t significantly affected. In some cases, just by changing the eyeglass prescription may help improve vision. It is a myth that a cataract has to be ripe in order to be removed. However, a cataract diagnosis requires regular monitoring of vision for any changes.

In children, the clouding of the lens in cataract, leading to the blurred image, leads to a reduction in the visual development of the child, resulting in amblyopia. Quick and immediate treatment then becomes necessary to prevent any permanent vision loss.

Signs and symptoms of a cataract may include:
• Blurredness or haziness in vision
• Colours may look faded or less clear
• Increase in sensitivity to glare from lights, especially when driving at night
• Increased difficulty seeing at night
• Change in the eye’s refractive error
• Experiencing double vision
• Cataracts aren’t painful and don’t irritate the eyes or make them red.

Cataract progresses at a slow rate and in senile cataracts, changes in vision can be really slow, largely due to age-related changes that result in the eye becoming cloudy or opaque. But, with worsening of cataract, the symptoms slowly surface.

Factors that can contribute to cataract development are:
• Diabetes mellitus – Diabetes puts people at a higher risk for cataracts.
• Drugs – Medications such as corticosteroids, chlorpromazine and other phenothiazine-related medications
are known to be associated with cataract development.
• Ultraviolet radiation- Unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation has been associated with an increased chance of cataract development.
• Smoking – Smoking could possibly be related to an increased lens cloudiness.
• Alcohol – A higher cataract formation has been observed with higher alcohol consumption in certain studies.
• Nutritional deficiency – Research studies point towards a possible association between cataract formation and low levels of antioxidants (for example, vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids).

Cataracts are rarely present at birth or develop soon after, in which case they may be inherited or develop if the mother contracts an infection (such as rubella) during pregnancy. An eye injury or surgery for another eye problem, such as glaucoma may lead to cataract development.

A comprehensive eye examination can help diagnose cataract. This examination may include:
• Patient history to check if vision problems are affecting daily activities.
• Measuring visual acuity to know the extent to which a cataract may be limiting the clear vision.
• Refraction to see if the patient shows any changes in an eyeglass or contact lens prescription.
• Evaluation of the lens under high magnification to determine the severity and position of any cataracts.
• Evaluation of the retina through a dilated pupil.
• Measurement of eye pressure.
• Additional testing for color vision and glare sensitivity.

Further testing may be required to check to evaluate the possibility of other eye diseases limiting the vision following cataract surgery. Using the information from these tests, your optometrist can determine if you have cataracts and advise you on your treatment options.

There are no medically proven approaches for cataract prevention but simple preventive strategies include:
• Reducing exposure to sunlight through UV-blocking lenses
• Decreasing or stopping smoking
• Increasing antioxidant vitamin consumption by eating more leafy green vegetables and taking nutritional supplements.
• Eye-friendly nutrients such as vitamin E, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin and zinc are known to have beneficial effect in reducing the risk of certain eye diseases, including cataracts.
Cataract treatment in India depends on the level of the resulting visual impairment. If a cataract does not affect vision or has minimal impact, then no treatment is warranted. Patients may be advised to monitor for increased visual symptoms and follow up with a regular check-up.

In some cases, changing the eyeglass prescription may provide temporary vision improvement. Additionally, eyeglass lenses with anti-glare coatings help reduce glare during night driving, and increase the amount of light used while reading.

Cataract surgery, the other available treatment, is also not without risks. Infection and bleeding are some of the risks that a cataract surgery carries. It also slightly increases the risk of retinal detachment. It is important to discuss the benefits and risks of cataract surgery with your eye care providers. Other eye conditions may aggravate the need for cataract surgery or rule out the surgery altogether.

At Sanjeevan, we treat early cataract without any surgery. Our USP lies in the fact that we provide cataract treatment without surgery. Our treatment relies on early detection of cataract which helps in improvement of vision without any surgery. We improve the flexibility of the lens and also use certain antioxidant supplements which eventually result in clearer vision. With this we stop the deterioration and further risk of loss of vision. Our treatment also improves the oxygenation of the lens which helps it to remain healthy and flexible.
Our treatment procedures are aimed at helping the entire visual apparatus, viz., the lens, ciliary muscles, retina and the optic nerve, to relax and provide it with favorable conditions to recover on its own so as to treat the specific ailment and also improve visual acuity.

Click here for Cataract Testimonials