A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the normally clear lens of the eye. Depending upon its size and location, it can interfere with normal vision.
Most cataracts develop in people over age 55, but they occasionally occur in infants and young children or as a result of trauma or medications. Usually, cataracts develop in both eyes, but one may be worse than the other.
The lens is located inside the eye behind the iris, the colored part of the eye. Normally, the lens focuses light on the retina, which sends the image through the optic nerve to the brain. However, if the lens is clouded by a cataract, light is scattered so the lens can no longer focus it properly, causing vision problems. The lens is made of mostly proteins and water. The clouding of the lens occurs due to changes in the proteins and lens fibers.
Types of cataract
The lens is composed of layers, like an onion. The outermost is the capsule. The layer inside the capsule is the cortex, and the innermost layer is the nucleus. A cataract may develop in any of these areas. Cataracts are named for their location in the lens:
- A nuclear cataract is located in the center of the lens. The nucleus tends to darken with age, changing from clear to yellow and sometimes brown.
- A cortical cataract affects the layer of the lens surrounding the nucleus. The cataract looks like a wedge or a spoke.
- A posterior capsular cataract is found in the back-outer layer of the lens. This type often develops more rapidly.
- Congenital cataracts that some people are born with cataracts 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, galactosemia, neurofibromatosis type 2 or rubella. Congenital cataracts don’t always affect vision, but if they do, they’re usually removed soon after detection.
Sign and Symptoms
Cataracts generally form very slowly. Signs and symptoms of a cataract may include:
- Blurred or hazy vision.
- Reduced-intensity of colors.
- Increased sensitivity to glare from lights, particularly when driving at night.
- Increased difficulty seeing at night.
- Sensitivity to light and glare.
- Need for brighter light for reading and other activities.
- Seeing “halos” around lights.
- Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription.
- Double vision in a single eye.
Most cataracts develop when aging or injury changes the tissue that makes up your eye’s lens. Some inherited genetic disorders that cause other health problems can increase your risk of cataracts. Cataracts can also be caused by other eye conditions, past eye surgery or medical conditions such as diabetes. Long-term use of steroid medications, too, can cause cataracts to develop.
- Diabetes mellitus: People with diabetes are at higher risk for cataracts.
- Drugs: Certain medications are associated with cataract development. These include: corticosteroids: Chlorpromazine and other phenothiazine related medications.
- Ultraviolet radiation: Studies show an increased chance of cataract formation with unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
- Smoking: There is possibly an association between smoking and increased lens cloudiness.
- Alcohol consumption: Several studies show increased cataract formation in patients with higher alcohol consumption compared with people who have lower or no alcohol consumption.
- Nutritional deficiency: Although the results are inconclusive, studies suggest an association between cataract formation and low levels of antioxidants (for example, vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids). Further studies may show that antioxidants can help decrease cataract development.
- Family History: If a close relative has had cataracts, there is a higher chance of developing a cataract.
- High blood pressure
- Previous eye injury or inflammation
- Previous eye surgery
- Excessive exposure to sunlight
- Increasing age
To determine whether have a cataract, the doctor will review the medical history and symptoms, and perform an eye examination. The doctor may conduct several tests, including:
- Visual acuity test: A visual acuity test uses an eye chart to measure how well can read a series of letters. The eyes are tested one at a time, while the other eye is covered. Using a chart or a viewing device with progressively smaller letters, the eye doctor determines if have 20/20 vision or if the vision shows signs of impairment.
- Slit-lamp examination: A slit lamp allows the eye doctor to see the structures at the front of the eye under magnification. The microscope is called a slit lamp because it uses an intense line of light, a slit, to illuminate your cornea, iris, lens, and the space between the iris and cornea. The slit allows the doctor to view these structures in small sections, which makes it easier to detect any tiny abnormalities.
- Retinal exam: To prepare for a retinal exam, the eye doctor puts drops in the eyes to open the pupils wide (dilate). This makes it easier to examine the back of the eyes (retina). Using a slit lamp or a special device called an ophthalmoscope, the eye doctor can examine the lens for signs of a cataract.
Homeopathy is the safest and natural mode of treatment for cataract. In the early stage, when the cataract starts to develop, these medicines are known to retard clouding of the lens. They are equally helpful in restoring blurred vision. Thus, medicines help avoid surgery and its side effects such as infection, bleeding, and retinal detachment. Homeopathic medicines for cataract are, therefore, beneficial for the opacity of the lens and stops further progression of the disease.
This remedy may be indicated when a person developing cataracts has the feeling of looking through a mist. A person needing this remedy tends to be a responsible type, but feels overwhelmed when under stress and fears breakdown or disease. Chilliness, swollen glands, weight problems, and easy tiring from exertion are other indications for Calcarea carbonica.
This remedy is often indicated when tissues harden or thicken abnormally. A person needing this remedy may also have a tendency toward hard swollen lymph nodes, joint pains, fibrous growths, or bone-spurs. The person generally feels worse during weather changes and improved by warmth.
This remedy has been helpful in some cases when the person developing cataracts also had problems moving the eyes, as if the muscles around the eyeballs were stiff or weak especially after getting cold in the wind or open air. The person may have a feeling of sand in the eyes. A person who needs this remedy may tend to have muscular stiffness in many body areas. They are generally worse from cold and improved by warmth, and often feel best in damp or rainy weather.
This remedy has been helpful to some individuals who developed cataracts after extended periods of eyestrain, or after perspiration of the feet had been suppressed. People needing this remedy tend to be chilly (although they often sweat at night) and often have low resistance to infection. Fine hair, weak nails, easy tiredness, and swollen lymph nodes are other signs suggesting Silicea.
This remedy may be indicated when cataracts begin to develop. The muscles around the eyes can feel bruised and weak, especially when the person looks down. The person may have a feeling of gauze across the eyes, and parts of the field of vision may be hard to focus on. A person who needs this remedy usually craves salt, feels worse from being in the sun, and has deep emotions yet appears to be reserved.
People who need this remedy may have a feeling that dust or mist in the eyes is obscuring vision, or may experience soreness that feels like eyestrain after very little use. They sometimes see little bright dots of colored light when the eyes are closed. People who need this remedy are usually sympathetic and fond of company, but can tire easily. An active imagination (including many fears) and a strong desire for cold drinks and refreshing things are other indications for Phosphorus.
It is the most reliable among medicines for cataract with a diminished vision where the eyes get easily fatigued from reading.
It is the best prescription for cataract with photophobia, especially on waking up in the morning.
Cataract along with photophobia when walking in the open air is treated well Psorinum, making it one of the most reliable medicines for cataract of this type.
The symptoms to look out for prescription of Carbo Animalis are that objects seem far off and there is dimness of vision when reading which gets better by rubbing the eyes.
It is mostly indicated for cataract in elderly persons who also experience photophobia and excessive lachrymation. Paralysis of ocular muscles is also treated well with Conium, making it one of the sought-after medicines for cataract in the elderly.
It is indicated for incipient cataract which is characterized by weak vision and tired eyes.
It is very effective for treating incipient cataract with cloudiness of the lens of the eye occurring at the very initial stage.
It is very effective for cataract from injury where the person senses a foreign body in his eyes.
It is the most effective for cataract developing post injury along with ocular lesions.
For cataract that develops after an injury, leaving the person feeling bruised and sore in the eyes.
It is most reliable among medicines for a cataract that develops after surgery and causes flickering and double vision. The person feels the need to wipe the eyes frequently.
It is the best among medicines for cataract developing after a surgery where the person complains of green spots before the eyes and photophobia.