Cataract is a pathology of the organ of vision, characterized by partial or total opacity of the lens, which is located between the vitreous humor and the iris of the eye. The lens plays the role of an anatomical lens, its main task is the refraction of rays with their subsequent projection onto the retina. If the lens becomes cloudy, the natural process of refraction of the rays is disrupted, due to which the visual acuity decreases or the person becomes completely blind.
Causes of cataract development
In medical practice, there is a certain gradation of cataract occurrence, the following groups of people head the risk zone:
- 90% – elderly people (age-related pathology);
- 4% – the development of cataracts after an eye or head injury (traumatic);
- 3% – people who have been exposed to radiation (radiation type of pathology);
- 3% – newborns with unfavorable heredity or intrauterine developmental disorders (congenital).
Based on the classification and according to statistics, cataracts are usually considered a disease of the elderly. However, there are a number of factors that contribute to the development of the disease:
- disorders of the endocrine system (diabetes mellitus, metabolic disorders);
- certain forms of vitamin deficiency; certain pathologies of the organ of vision;
- taking certain medications for a long time.
Signs of cataracts
The main and most common clinical sign of cataract is expressed in a visual defect, which is characterized as a veil in front of the eyes. This symptom directly indicates clouding of the lens, it is accompanied by a decrease in visual acuity. Most patients describe this symptom as if they are looking at the world through foggy glass, a foggy veil. Often, the patient does not notice for a long time that his vision has become worse, since the eye that sees better compensates for the difference in vision. For self-diagnosis, doctors recommend that you close your eyes one by one and check your vision with each eye separately.
Among other symptoms of cataracts, ophthalmologists include:
- blurred or blurred vision;
- colors appear dull and washed out;
- circles appear around light sources;
- sensitivity to sunlight or bright light;
- deterioration of vision at night;
- a high need for brighter lighting when reading;
- glasses no longer help.
Lens clouding in the elderly
According to statistics provided by WHO, about 70% of all cases of age-related cataracts occur in the age over 70 years. This means that the older a person gets, the higher the likelihood of lens clouding.
Despite these data, cataract is not only a disease of the elderly. The disease develops not due to the fact of aging, but due to changes that occur in the body with age. Some of these changes may well occur in 40-50 years, it all depends on the individual characteristics of each person’s organism, as well as genetic factors.
In old age, the main reason for the development of pathology is considered to be the changes that occur in the lens at the biochemical level. This process is regarded by doctors as natural, that is, every person is susceptible to the development of cataracts to a certain extent.
What is the nature of cataracts?
In order to fully understand the mechanism of the development of the disease, it is important to understand that protein compounds are present in the biochemical composition of the lens. They have certain physical, chemical and biological properties, the balance of which ensures the crystalline transparency of the lens.
With age, changes occur in the body, accompanied by the process of denaturation of protein compounds. In this case, proteins lose their original properties due to molecular rearrangements. The protein compound in the lens, undergoing these changes, darkens like an egg white during cooking, this biological process is irreversible.
How quickly does a cataract mature? The early stages of the progression of the pathological process often go unnoticed due to the absence of any symptoms. This is due to two features of the development of cataracts: Click To Tweet
- pathology develops slowly, from the moment of its onset until the first clinical signs appear, several years may pass;
- in most cases, the clouding of the lens begins from the edges, that is, the affected areas are outside the optical zone, the clarity of vision remains the same until a certain point.
The progression of cataracts to a severe stage, loss of vision, can take several years. During this period, vision will gradually deteriorate, up to overripe cataracts. In this case, the patient only has a sense of the sensation of light (patients understand whether it is dark around or light). At the final stages of the progression of pathology, the color of the pupil changes, which can be seen even with the naked eye (from black to various shades of white or light gray).
According to statistics, about 50% of congenital visual impairments are caused by cataracts. As in other cases, the true cause of the pathology is the clouding of the lens due to biochemical abnormalities in the protein compound. In most cases, this happens due to genetic disorders, often of hereditary origin. Other factors that contribute to the development of cataracts in newborns include:
- endocrine disorders in the mother during pregnancy (including diabetes mellitus);
- the woman had an infectious disease in the first trimester;
- abnormalities in the development of the fetus caused by the intake of certain medications by the mother at various stages of pregnancy.
The congenital form of cataract is dangerous by impaired development of the visual organs and perception senses in the child. There are types of disease in which urgent treatment is not required, but we are talking only about those cases when partial opacity of the lens does not impair vision.
If the localization, shape or size of the blurred spot is the cause of visual impairment, the child needs surgical treatment. With the current level of development of medicine, operations to restore the lens are carried out even for newborns in the first months of life.
Types of congenital cataracts
In medicine, many types of congenital cataracts are distinguished, which differ in the degree of damage to the lens, the involvement of its various structures in the pathological process, etc. The most common types of pathology in newborns are:
- Zonular is the most common form of pathology, known for the two-sided nature of the course. The blurred spot is usually located closer to the center of the lens, which leads to severe forms of visual impairment and requires urgent treatment.
- Polar – the pathological process affects not only the capsule, but also the lens fibers, the opacity is localized in the region of the posterior or anterior poles. The features of the course of the disease and the extent of the spread vary, which is why the decrease in visual functions varies.
- Nuclear – affects both eyes, this type of pathology is hereditary and is accompanied by severe visual impairment. Cases when, with the nuclear form of the disease, vision decreased slightly, are isolated.
- Capsular – we are talking about isolated opacification, which is exposed to one of the lens capsules (anterior or posterior). At the same time, the severity of visual impairment directly depends on the scale of the opacity. Pathology develops under the condition of intrauterine pathological processes of inflammatory genesis or in the case of infectious diseases suffered by the mother during pregnancy.
- Total or complete – a distinctive feature of this type of pathology is the total opacity of the lens of both eyes. The severity of clinical signs directly depends on the degree of lens opacity.
- Complicated – characterized by various forms of lens opacity, but more importantly, it occurs against the background of other pathologies and complications of the congenital type. Such cataracts are often accompanied by deafness, heart and other defects.
For newborns, it is important to diagnose cataracts as early as possible, determine how much it affects vision and, if necessary, begin treatment as soon as possible. This approach allows you to prevent the development of complications, contributes to the full development of the child.
Diagnosis of cataracts
The use of modern equipment and advanced diagnostic methods allows cataract to be detected even in its early stages. We recommend that you contact a specialist at the first symptoms of the disease, contrary to popular belief, you should not wait until the cataract “matures”.
Eye Clinics employs ophthalmologists of the highest category with extensive diagnostic experience. To make an accurate diagnosis at the initial consultation, the following studies are carried out:
- biomicroscopy of the eye using a slit lamp;
- fundus examination and intraocular pressure determination using modern equipment;
- determination of acuity and visual fields.
Doctors calculate the parameters of the future artificial lens using the equipment of the expert class IOL Master 700, Carl Zeiss, Germany.
Today, for the treatment of cataracts, doctors use an integrated approach that combines drug therapy and surgical methods of treatment. The drugs used are able to slow down or temporarily stop the development of the pathological process. However, the process of lens clouding is irreversible; today there is no medicine that could completely cure cataracts.
For this reason, the only effective method of treatment is ultrasonic phaco emulsification of cataracts (USFEK) – a surgical intervention that consists in replacing the clouded lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). UZFEK is one of the most common and successful procedures in ophthalmology.
The operation takes 15-20 minutes, the procedure is completely painless and well tolerated by patients, as it is performed under local anesthesia (with the help of anesthetic drops). 4 out of 5 patients reported that their cataract surgery was much easier than they expected.
After cataract surgery, patients note the following changes:
- it became easier to read;
- increased social activity;
- the number of stressful situations has decreased;
- decreased risk of falling;
- reduced the likelihood of road accidents due to improved response.
Choice of vision correction technology
Only an ophthalmologist can choose the right artificial lens (intraocular lens – IOL) and decide on the possibility of an operation. There are several types of IOLs:
- Monofocal lenses. Provides the best quality of vision at a certain distance (near or far). After implantation of such lenses, patients should use glasses for reading or for distance vision.
- Multifocal lenses. Allows patients to see clearly at different distances (near, medium and distance) and reduce or eliminate the need to wear glasses after surgery.
- Toric lenses. Allows to obtain high visual acuity in patients with cataracts who also require correction of the original corneal astigmatism.
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Contraindications to cataract removal
Surgical removal of cataracts and replacement of the eye lens with an intraocular lens is the only effective treatment for the disease. However, there are a number of absolute and relative contraindications in which the operation is considered impossible:
- Infectious eye diseases;
- increased intraocular pressure with decompensated glaucoma;
- During pregnancy and breastfeeding;
- exacerbation of various pathologies of a somatic nature;
- severe forms of diabetes mellitus;
- oncological processes, especially those accompanied by the formation of tumors and metastases;
- the progression of multiple sclerosis to severe stages.
Prevention of cataracts
Due to the fact that cataract is considered a part of the aging process, and its occurrence is dictated by already understandable biological processes, everyone is susceptible to its development to a certain extent. To reduce the likelihood of developing the disease, doctors recommend:
- throughout your life, try to use high-quality sunglasses, protecting your eyes from the negative effects of ultraviolet radiation;
- eat well, make sure that the diet regularly contains foods rich in vitamins and trace elements that are good for eyesight;
- give up bad habits, smoking, alcohol abuse and even more the use of drugs;
- monitor the state of the body, treat pathologies of the endocrine system in time;
- if due to professional activity you have to work at a computer for a long time, try to do exercises for the eyes, use special eye drops; annually undergo an examination by an ophthalmologist.
Conclusion Early diagnosis of eye diseases is the key to successful treatment! Your eyesight is priceless Click To Tweet
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