So before we even start let me assure you that I will not be talking about the waterfall type of cataracts in this article and won’t be talking about civil engineering type projects. What I am talking about is the condition of the eye that is actually an opacification of the lens that disrupts the vision of nearly half of the population of the elderly. The good news is that there are things that can be done and that is what I am here to talk to you about.
First let’s discuss what can cause this formation of opacity in the lens called cataracts. There are several things that contribute or can cause it outright. Probably the most common is ultra violet radiation exposure which denatures the proteins in the lens changing there physical properties and making them opaque rather than translucent. The effect of the radiation is cumulative and this is why it starts showing up in older folks. One can prevent this by wearing proper protection when out in the sun. Another common cause is poorly controlled diabetes which can also affect the optic nerve causing blindness. Though not completely understood, high blood glucose levels leads to glycosylation of proteins which can affect the physical properties causing these proteins to become opaque. Other causes are direct damage to the eye from a missile or severe scratches. There is also such thing as a congenital cataract that is part of several genetic syndromes.
So what can be done about it? Well there are things that can be done to prevent their formation as mentioned above and including all manner of eye protection from projectiles and from UV rays. In the case of diabetes the cataract formation can be delayed or prevented by tight control of blood glucose levels by means of diet, oral medications, and insulin. Unfortunately there is little that can be done to prevent the genetic predilection to congenital cataracts.
What about when you already have a cataract? Is there some kind of cure? Thankfully the answer is YES! and the cure is surgery on the eye. Surgical procedures to take care of cataracts has been going on for thousands of years but has been perfected to a relatively safe and restorative surgery. What happens is that the lens with the opacities is removed and a plastic lens is put in, in the damages lens’ place. This results in normal vision for at least the middle range of focus though the lens cannot be thickened or thinned to accommodate for the extremes of near and far vision.