As people age or experience trauma, they face many age- or injury- related conditions. One of the most commons of these conditions is cataract. Cataract is a term used to describe an ocular disease that results in the clouding and opaquing of the usually clear lens. In normal eyes, the transparent lens allows for light to easily enter the retina. Due to the nature of cataracts, suffers experience a partial or total loss of vision, depending on severity.
Unlike many other ocular diseases that are related to unique genetics, cataract is incredibly common among older people, regardless of other characteristics. In fact, it has been estimated that over half of all people over the age of 80 will suffer from cataracts to some degree. The rate of cataracts increases to nearly 100% for those who are 95 and older.
Luckily, cataracts are not contagious. This means that cataract cannot be spread from person to person or move from one eye to the other. However, it is common for people who have developed a cataract in one eye to also develop a cataract in the other eye at some point as well. Cataracts are also not known to cause pain, itchiness, or redness. Despite this lack of discomfort, many individuals with cataracts elect for surgical correction. Untreated cataracts may eventually result in complete blindness.
Age-related cataracts are thought to stem from the proteins that form the lens of the eye. Normally, these proteins are properly arranged which allows for the full transparency that accompanies good, clear vision. Over time, these chains of proteins begin to clump in atypical fashions. As the clumping continues, the transparency of the lens decreases and a cataract is formed. A fully opaque cataract is considered “matured” while cataracts of lesser degrees of severity are “immature”.
Age is, of course, not the only cause of cataracts. Genetics can predispose people to secondary cataracts, regardless of age. Some genetic diseases that are linked to cataracts include: Down syndrome, myotonic dystrophy, Wilson’s disease, galactosemia, and many more. Cataracts can also be caused by congenital infections such as rubella, herpes’ simplex, toxoplasmosis, and syphilis, to name a few. Other illnesses such as diabetes, iritis, and uveitis are known causes of cataracts.
Physical trauma can also cause secondary cataracts. Blunt or penetrating injuries can lead to the formation of secondary cataracts at some point. Other non-age-related causes of cataracts include but are not limited to: surgeries or exposure to ionizing, infrared, or ultraviolet radiation.
If and when cataracts do develop, surgery is a recommended option in order to counter the effects of increasingly murky vision. One common type of surgery available for individuals suffering from cataracts is LASIK surgery. The LASER used in LASIK surgery helps to reshape the cornea and to diminish the presence of cataracts. There are many types of LASIK surgery available and it is recommended that those choosing this route should contact a medical professional to see what surgery options are most appropriate.
For more information on cataracts and on how LASIK surgery may be able to alleviate symptoms, please visit http://www.lasiksurgery.sg/cataract.php.