Cataract is a result of changes in the protein fibres in the lens of an eye. The changes adversely affect the transmission and focusing of light entering the eye, and this makes the normally transparent lens cloudy and blurs the vision. Unless it is present right from the birth, cataract is a rare phenomena in children and young adults. The eyes generally go through the changes in the protein fibres after the age of 60. However, when only the outer edges are affected, visual loss is minimal.
Although cataract develops in both the eyes, one eye is usually more affected than the other. The reason for development is such structural changes in the formation of the protein fibres. These changes are the result of normal ageing process. However, when a child or a young adult develops cataract, it is because of reasons other than the ageing process such as constant exposure to bright sunlight or an injury. Certain medical conditions like diabetes mellitus, uveitis, long-term treatment with corticosteroids, the Down’s syndrome (a chromosome disorder), are also responsible for it.
The onset of cataract symptoms does not start overnight, in fact, they usually take many months or years to develop. Generally, these symptoms do not cause pain and are related to the eyesight. The symptoms include:
- Distorted or blurred vision
- Objects appear yellowish or reddish
- Seeing halos around light
- Difficulty seeing at night or in dim light
- Star-shaped scattering of light from bright lights, especially at night
- Sensitivity to light and glare
The doctor will examine the eyes with a slit lamp and an ophthalmoscope. If cataract is affecting your life severely and causing disturbances in your routine, such as reading or driving at night, you may be advised to remove it surgically. An artificial lens is put in place of the damaged one to restore the vision. This lens then becomes a part of your eye and if your eyes are otherwise okay, a cataract operation will improve your vision significantly. But, if the condition is not causing serious problems, you don’t need to rush for an operation. Consider all the pros and cons before deciding about the surgery.