The Eyes Have It!
Last month I wrote a blog post about taking care of our eyes. This month I’m blogging about cataract awareness.
My eye doctor told me about seven years ago that he could see cataracts forming. He said I didn’t need to worry about it until they get larger.
What is a Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye.
Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision.
Autoimmune and Cataracts
There are autoimmune diseases that have ocular manifestations. And some of these manifestations include cataracts.
Takayasu’s Arteritis – Vaso-occlusive retinopathy, ischemic optic neuropathy, cataracts.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis – Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis accounts for approximately 80 percent of cases of uveitis in children. Delay in diagnosis can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, and blindness.
Spondyloarthritis is an umbrella term for inflammatory diseases that involve both the joints and the entheses (the sites where the ligaments and tendons attach to the bones). The most common of these diseases is ankylosing spondylitis. Patients suspected of having uveitis should be referred to an ophthalmologist. Complications include glaucoma, cataracts, or blindness.
Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts
- Clouded, blurred or dim vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Needing to turn on more lights for reading and other activities
- Seeing “halos” around lights
- Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
- Fading or yellowing of colors
- Double vision in a single eye
I have six of these symptoms. Ugh!
Four Types of Cataracts
A nuclear cataract affects the center of the lens and may at first cause more nearsightedness or even a temporary improvement in your reading vision. But with time, the lens gradually turns more densely yellow and further clouds your vision.
A cortical cataract, affects the edges of the lens, and begins as whitish, wedge-shaped opacities or streaks on the outer edge of the lens cortex. As it slowly progresses, the streaks extend to the center and interferes with light passing through the center of the lens.
Posterior subcapsular cataracts affects the back of the lens and starts as a small, opaque area that usually forms near the back of the lens, right in the path of light. This type of cataract often interferes with your reading vision, reduces your vision in bright light, and causes glare or halos around lights at night. These types of cataracts tend to progress faster than other types do.
Congenital cataracts some people are born with or develop them during childhood. These cataracts may be genetic, or associated with an intrauterine infection or trauma.
These cataracts also may be due to certain conditions, such as:
- myotonic dystrophy – A genetic disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness.
- galactosemia – is a rare genetic metabolic disorder that affects an individual’s ability to metabolize the sugar galactose properly.
- neurofibromatosis type 2 – is a hereditary condition most commonly associated with bilateral vestibular schwannomas, also known as acoustic neuromas.
- rubella – a contagious viral disease, with symptoms like mild measles. It can cause fetal malformation if contracted in early pregnancy.
Congenital cataracts don’t always affect vision, but if they do they’re usually removed soon after detection.
There are things we can do to reduce our risk of developing cataracts, and some things we can’t. I wish we could change the first risk factor, but no. We are all getting older as the days go by.
- Getting older
- Enormous amounts of sunlight
- Being very over weight
- Having high blood pressure
- Previous eye injury or inflammation
- Previous eye surgery
- Lengthy use of corticosteroid medications
- Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol
It’s just common sense to take care of ourselves better.
- Get our weight to a healthy number.
- Stop smoking and drinking.
- Protect our eyes when we are in the sun.
- And visit our eye doctor on a regular basis.