A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s lens due to protein buildup in the body that leads to blurry vision and a loss of sight if not treated. There are different types of cataracts including the nuclear sclerotic cataract. This is when the nucleus of the lens actually hardens within the eye. This leads to the yellowing of the lens as well as cloudy vision. The lens eventually hardens. When this happens the eye will be unable to focus and take in light which can lead to blindness. This type of cataract is mostly related to aging and can take years to come to full fruition.
Symptoms of the Condition
Oftentimes, the symptoms related to a nuclear sclerotic cataract remain unnoticed for years. This is because the noticeable symptoms regarding vision loss can take a while to appear. In most cases, the condition develops gradually over time before it affects a person’s vision and raises concern within them.
When symptoms start to appear, you can have problems distinguishing certain shades of color (ex: brown, black, and navy blue), encounter issues judging the depth or height of something, hazy vision, and difficulty reading normal-sized print or things like street signs. You might also need more light or specifically focused light to do things like read, sew, or perform other close-up activities.
Other symptoms related to this type of cataract are:
· Issues with glare
· Sensitivity to light at night
· Problems seeing at night
· Perceiving halos around lights
· Frequent prescription changes for eyeglasses/contact lenses
· Development of nearsightedness or a worsening if already present
· Double vision in the affected eye
While these are the common symptoms related to the condition it should be noted that individual symptoms can vary.
Diagnosis of the Cataract
Only an ophthalmologist or optometrist can properly diagnose any kind of cataract. This is done through a comprehensive eye exam. During the examination, your full medical history including family history should be ascertained as well as information regarding your current medical prescriptions and over-the-counter regimen. Specifically, you’ll be asked about high blood pressure/hypertension, diabetes, over-exposure to the sun, and smoking habits.
You’ll also go through history specifically regarding your vision. You’ll be asked about recent changes in your vision, family eye history regarding things like glaucoma and macular degeneration, the date of your last normal eye exam, and about previous eye injuries or treatments.
Along with this workup, you’ll also be put through physical eye exams. This exam will normally include a visual acuity test that will test your distance and near vision for sharpness of reading close-up and at a distance. You’ll also be tested with different lenses to see if you need corrective glasses if you don’t already have them. A visual field test will also be done to test your peripheral vision.
You’ll then have a full evaluation where the external part of your eyes and lenses are looked at. Here, the doctor will be looking for any yellowing, fissures, or opacities that can be present in people with cataracts. Your eyes will usually be dilated so the doctor can see the internal parts of your eye as well. Your doctor may perform additional tests based on your individual needs and history, too.
Treatment of the Cataract
The only proven treatment for cataracts is to remove the natural lens through surgery. It is possible, however, to live a normal life with a nuclear sclerotic cataract. If the cataract isn’t causing vision problems that are interfering with your normal life, you can forego surgery and continue on with corrective lenses to help you focus.
The only time that surgery will be necessary is if you have blurry vision that stops you from being able to read or if you notice disabling glare when doing things like driving. Basically, if your vision problems affect your daily life to the point where you can’t do certain things, you need to have surgery.
Cataract Surgery Risks and Information
Thanks to modern advancements patients no longer have to wait for cataracts to develop more before it can be removed safely. Lenses can now be removed at any stage of the cataract’s development. That being said, the longer a cataract is left, the harder it can be to remove the affected lens. An ignored cataract can also lead to other problems like inflammation or pressure leading to glaucoma.
With any surgery, there are always risks. Possible complications from the surgery include:
· Inflammation in the eye
· Worsening of present eye conditions
· Failure to improve sight
The decision to go through with cataract surgery is yours alone and should be carefully considered. Luckily, this type of surgery has a 98 percent success rate with little complications. If you’ve noticed the symptoms of cataracts or are having other vision problems, visit an ophthalmologist or optometrist for an exam and don’t forget to take a look on Everything You Need To Know About Cataract Surgery.