Cataracts Examination and treatment at DOmed
Cataracts are the cause of more than 40 percent of all severe visual defects worldwide. Age-related cataracts which can occur from the age of 60 are the most common form. As this eye disease occurs so frequently, this procedure to improve the eyesight is the most commonly performed eye surgery.
Was exactly are cataracts?
Cataracts are a clouding of the normally clear lenses of the eye. In ancient times, people believed that the blindness caused by this disease comes from substances flowing down behind the pupil. Based on this belief, the term “cataract” originates from the ancient Greek katarráktēs which means as much as “waterfall” or “rushing down”.
The lens clouding related to cataracts mostly goes unnoticed at the beginning and slowly becomes more severe.
We are able to see our environment through light which enters the eye through the lens. This means that an increased clouding of the lens will also result in a reduced eyesight. Cataract are therefore an extremely impairing, however not dangerous eye disease.
What causes cataracts
With this eye disease, the structures of the lens change and crystallise, causing a clouding of the lens. The light entering the eye can no longer be refracted in a straight line and are scattered. This generates a blurry image on the retina.
The causes for this can differ greatly. They can either be congenital or be caused by diseases such as diabetes or neurodermatitis. In addition, external influences such as UV light, heavy alcohol consumption, medication (e.g. cortinsone) and injuries of the eyes can result in cataract.
Different types of cataracts
There are three different types of cataracts:
- Cortical cataracts (cataracta corticalis)
- Posterior subcapsular cataracts (cataracta subcapsularis posterior)
- Nuclear cataracts (cataracta nuclearis)
Each type affects different parts of the lens which consists of the cortex and a core.
Cortical cataracts take shape on the outside edge of your lens. With this type, the eyesight may improve for a certain time when clear areas form in the eye. Ultimately, however, cortical cataracts will cause problems to both your trouble for both near and distance vision.
Posterior subcapsular cataracts are quicker to come on than other cataracts. A thin film of fluid collects under the posterior part of the lens. This affects close-up vision, making it harder for patients to see close objects than those at a distance.
In case of the third type, which are referred to as nuclear cataracts, the nucleus of the lens becomes gradually harder. Among other things, this type is caused simply by old age; it manifests as short-sightedness as the refractive power of the hardened lens increases.
How do cataracts affect your vision?
The ever-increasing clouding of the eye’s lens goes hand in hand with a worsening eyesight. Cataracts can be compared with an increasing dense veil which cover everything. Often, they are accompanied by increased glare sensitivity, reduced contrast sensitivity and occasionally impaired colour perception. And also double vision, halos around objects, impaired spatial vision or a reduced adaptation to light and dark surroundings can be cataract-related symptoms.
A worsening or first-time occurrence of short-sightedness or more frequent changes to dioptre strengths than usual, may point in the direction of cataracts. Which symptoms occur depends in the individual stage of the disease and which area of the lens is affected. In its late stage, cataracts may result in blindness as the lens will become completely impermeable for light.
How quickly cataracts develop and which impairments occur can differ from case to case.
How are cataracts diagnosed?
To detect cataracts as early as possible, we recommend regular eye check-ups from the age of 40. As the lens is located in the front part of the eye, your eye specialist will be able to check your eyes for cataract in a pain-free procedure using the familiar methods (eyesight test, slit lamp, microscope).
Another examination method is the Brückner test. In this case, the eye is transilluminated. Part of the light is reflected by the retina: The parts with lens clouding can be seen as dark patches.
How are cataracts treated today?
As there is currently no medication for healing cataracts, they must be treated by eye surgery. In this case, the clouded lens is replaced with a clear artificial lens (intraocular lens). In Germany, this procedure is performed more than 800 000 times per annum. This largely pain-free operation will practically restore the eyesight allowing patients to participate in active life.
Here you can find further information on treatment methods for cataracts at DOmed.