Clouds Are Settling Over Your Vision
The eye works by focusing light on one specific point (called the retina) that sends information to the brain. Images first pass through the cornea and then the lens, both of which contribute significantly to the process. Cataracts are a disease of the eye where the lens becomes cloudy and loses focusing power. When untreated, a cataract can lead to blindness in one or both eyes.
Age or trauma?
Although not exhaustive, there are two primary causes for cataract formation. The first is nothing more than increasing the amount of time spent here on Earth. As individuals get older, the proteins that make up the lens start to break down. The second way most cataracts form is from a traumatic injury to the face or eye that damages the lens.
It’s better to be immature
Cataracts can begin to form at any time in life but most commonly begin to appear around age 40. Even so, in most cases the disease isn’t noticeable until age 60 or 70. As the disease progresses, vision starts to appear blurry, hazy, or grayish in color, indicating time for cataract removal. If left alone, sight in the eye will continue to deteriorate over time. These hypermature cataracts are incredibly dense, hard, and often completely block vision.
Do they grow fast or slow?
The time it takes for a cataract to negatively affect vision can vary depending on the type of cataract present. Cataracts that form in the front or central part of the lens are frequently slow-growing and take several years to mature. Cataracts on the back of the lens are more commonly associated with fast growth and can reach maturity much faster.
Get me out of here
The only treatment for a cataract is removal through a surgical procedure. If a cataract becomes thick enough to cause blindness, the extraction process can be much more demanding. Hypermature cataractous lenses are thick and hard, sometimes requiring larger incisions during surgery and longer healing time afterward. The increased complexity of such a case can lead to complications and undesirable outcomes.
Back to where we began
The good news is that even the most challenging cataract can be removed without issue, and sight can be restored. During surgery, an ophthalmologist will replace a cataractous lens with an artificial one designed to serve the same purpose. If a patient has no other eye issues present, this new lens has the potential to bring back clear vision patients experienced before cataracts first formed.