An Overview of Cataracts: Definition, Kinds, and Causes

The physiology of our eyes are very similar to how cameras are made. The most similar aspect of both is the lens. The human eye is much like a camera lens in that it is where light enters to give us an image of what is in front of us. When you turn the focusing ring surrounding a camera lens, you are adjusting where the camera should focus on. This focusing ring is like the pupil and iris of the eye. Both function hand-in-hand to allow us to focus on a particular object at a particular distance. Furthermore, our eyes even get fogger-up like a camera lens usually does especially does during cold or moist weather. However, when the lens of our eyes become “fogged-up”, it cannot be fixed by mere wiping like what we can do with a camera.


Foggy eye lens explained

A person who finds that his field of view has become “foggy” or cloudy is someone who has developed a cataract. A cataract is a problem with the eye lens. It is not that the external aspect—the side of the lens that is facing the outside world—has become foggy, but it is because the proteins that make-up the lens has clumped-up therefore providing smaller microscopic holed for the light to pass through. Therefore, as mentioned earlier, wiping the external aspect of the lens will not fix the problem.

Types of Cataracts

  1. Subcapsular type – someone with subcapsular cataract has a lens where the clumped protein molecules are found mostly at its internal aspect. The ones who are prone to develop this kind of cataracts are those that usually take significant amounts of steroid medications and someone who has an underlying condition called diabetes.
  2. Nuclear type – if someone is having a nuclear cataract, it usually means that this person is already in his old age. A nuclear cataract is one where the proteins that have clumped together are found at the central region of the lens. The person with this type of cataract has the most amount of visual impairment.
  3. Cortical type – in contrast to the nuclear type, this kind of cataract is one where the opacity initiated at the peripherals of the lens and they gradually grow towards the center. Those who have this type will have relatively unnoticeable visual improblems.

Causes of a cataract

As indicated earlier, a cataract forms when the proteins in the lens clump together. The identified causes of their clumping include the following:

  • A significant production of free-radicals in the body
  • Regular smoking of tobacco
  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation
  • Extended intake of steroid-based medication and supplements
  • Underlying conditions such as diabetes
  • Previous trauma to the face that provided significant injury to the eye and/or structures surrounding the eye
  • Exposure to radiation therapy

Treatment of cataract

There’s only one effective way to treat a cataract—that is to replace the lens. Cataract surgery is the best way to go. There are thousands of eye-care practitioners who are very well trained to perform cataract surgery and the procedure has been found to be very effective and provides very little side-effects and complications.


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