Symptoms & Types of Cataracts
In simplest terms, a Cataract is a clouding of the Crystalline Lens. A Cataract can be relatively mild and cause limited visual impairment, or can be significant or extreme and thus block the passage of light to the Retina causing a considerable disturbance of your vision.
The most common Cataracts are those that are age related. Age related Cataracts are often initially marked by the Crystalline Lens increasing in strength or power, inducing nearsightedness in otherwise normally sighted people, lessening farsightedness in farsighted people and increasing nearsightedness in those already nearsighted-thus giving the impression to patients that a change in eyeglass prescription is necessary.
As the Crystalline Lens takes on a yellow color as it opacficies, it is not uncommon for patients to experience a disturbance in their color perception-especially with regard to seeing the color blue. Typically as the Crystalline Lens yellows and opacifies, patients experience glare sensitivity, difficulty with night driving and overall dimming of their vision especially in dusky or dark conditions. Sometimes patients report seeing halos or double vision as well, depending on the position of the Cataract in the Crystalline Lens. Generally, most age related Cataracts are progressive and if left untreated will result in severe vision loss and disability.
Cataracts are thought to develop due to a wide range of reasons including:
Family history and the use of certain medications such as corticosteroids for asthma or arthritis and anti-psychotic medications for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may also be predisposing factors in the development of Cataracts as well.
There has been considerable research and discussion regarding the role of diet, nutrition and Cataracts. However, there is a great deal of contradiction among the studies and their findings. Investigators from the Clinical Trial of Nutritional Supplement and Age Related Cataract (CTNS) reported on the efficacy of daily multivitamins in preventing age related Cataracts. In this study they found that there was a reduced tendency to develop one type of Cataract while there was an increased tendency to develop another type of Cataract. Based on this contradiction, the researchers were unable to make any recommendations regarding the use of daily multivitamins in the prevention of Cataracts.
There are many types of Cataracts. They may be characterized by their severity (i.e. partial or total, incipient, mature, hypermature), tendency to progress ( i.e. progressive or stationary) and location (i.e. anterior, posterior, cortical, nuclear). Cataracts are diagnosed by first listening to the patient’s symptoms and then through careful examination. Examination for Cataracts most commonly includes the testing of visual acuity, refraction, dilating the pupils and observation with the slit lamp biomicroscope. In some cases glare testing may be used to help understand the degree of visual disability that a Cataract is actually causing the patient to experience.
If you are experiencing vision changes like those mentioned above or have a family or medical history that might predispose you to Cataracts it is important to schedule a comprehensive eye examination and Cataract Evaluation with a Cataract Surgeon or Cataract Surgery Center to help identify the presence of Cataracts and explore potential treatment options if they are needed.
The information that has been provided here is intended to give patients an overview of Cataracts. None of the information provided here is meant to be a substitute or replace your physician’s consultation nor does it replace the need for you to consult with your surgeon about specific details regarding the symptoms, types and development of Cataracts.