Cataracts

a photo of one eye shadowed and almost in black and white

 Our eyesight is such a precious sense and one we tend to take for granted for the most part.

My Mother in Law was virtually blind due to glaucoma and cataracts and so I  appreciate my sight.

If I planted hanging baskets she would have to feel and smell them as she couldn’t see and it made me sad to think she couldn’t see her two gorgeous grandsons ( though I say so myself !).

Today I wanted to focus on cataracts, what they are and how they can be treated. My own Mum had hers removed last year and has said her sight is massively improved…..Thank goodness as she was still driving and had difficultly seeing the road signs !

Cataract_color_large   This is the image someone with a cataract will see.

Cataracts are a very common eye condition. As we get older the lens inside our eye gradually changes and becomes less transparent (clear). A lens that has turned misty, or cloudy, is said to have a cataract. Over time a cataract can get worse, gradually making your vision mistier. A straightforward operation can usually remove the misty lens and replace it with an artificial lens to enable you to see more clearly again.

When you look at something, light passes through the front of your eye, and is focused by the cornea and then the lens onto the retina. The lens is normally clear so that light can pass directly through to focus on your retina (the lens is clear because of the way the cells in the lens are arranged). The lens focuses light onto the retina, which converts the light into electrical signals. A network of nerves delivers these signals from the different parts of the retina to the optic nerve and then onto the brain. The brain interprets these signals to “see” the world around us.

Cataracts result from changes in the way the cells of the lens are arranged and their water content, which causes the lens to become cloudy instead of clear. When this happens, light cannot pass directly through the lens and you may notice problems with your vision. A cataract is not a growth or a film growing over the eye, it is simply the lens becoming misty.

Cataracts can be caused by a number of things, but by far the most common reason is growing older. Most people over the age of 65 have some changes in their lens and most of us will develop a cataract in time. Apart from getting older, the other common causes of cataract include:

  • diabetes
  • trauma
  • medications, such as steroids
  • eye surgery for other eye conditions
  • other eye conditions.

In general, the reason why you have developed a cataract will not affect the way it is removed. Most cataracts are caused by natural changes in the lens, which happen as you get older. However, the following factors may be involved in cataract development (please note that these are only suggested causes which are the subject of ongoing research):

  • tobacco smoking
  • lifelong exposure to sunlight
  • having a poor diet lacking antioxidant vitamins

(source RNIB)

To learn more about the symptoms and treatment click here to visit the RNIB website

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Caron

Award-winning blogger and care columnist for Devon Life magazine, Caron also campaigns for recognition of the needs elderly people and their carers. Designer and creator of the award-winning Dementia Assistance Cards which are free to all, and helping thousands of people globally Caron is passionate and committed to making a difference

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