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What is a Cataract?

Cataracts occur when the natural lens of the eye, which is located behind the iris and the pupil, becomes clouded. The lens functions more or less like a camera lens. It not only focuses light onto the retina at the back of the eye but also adjusts the focus of the eye so that we can see things clearly both up close and at a distance. Water and protein are the main constituents of the lens and the protein is so arranged that the lens remains clear and allows light to pass through it. But as we grow older, some of the protein may clump together and cloud a small part of the lens. This is a cataract, which grows bigger with time and makes seeing difficult. Cataracts are of three types: subcapsular, nuclear and cortical.

Symptoms of Cataract
At the outset, a cataract has little effect on your vision. You may experience a little blurred vision, like when you see something through a cloudy piece of glass. If the light from the sun or a lamp seems too bright for you, it is a sign that cataract is setting in. You may also find oncoming headlights more glaring than before while driving. Colors appear less bright than what they earlier did. The symptoms and how soon it will set in largely depend on the type of cataract you have. In the case of a nuclear cataract, there may be a temporary improvement in your near vision, called "second sight" at the early stages. A subcapsular cataract, however, may not produce any symptoms till it is well-developed.

Causes of Cataract
The exact causes of cataract are yet to be established, but studies indicate that exposure to ultraviolet light may be responsible for cataract formation. Ophthalmologists often recommend the use of sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats to reduce the exposure.

Other varieties of radiation, such as cosmic radiation, may also cause cataract as airline pilots are more prone to cataract than non-pilots. Some studies have also found a link between diabetes and cataract. Those who use steroids, diuretics and major tranquilizers have also been found to run higher risks of cataract. Some doctors believe that a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins C and E, may resist cataract development. Consumption of excessive salt increases the risk of cataract. Among other likely causes are cigarette smoke, air pollution and heavy drinking.

Treatment of Cataract
Natural: When cataract symptoms first appear, you can see better for some time using new glasses, strong bifocals, magnification, proper lighting etc. Consider surgery only when your cataracts have matured enough to seriously affect your vision making your daily life difficult. In fact, cataract surgery is a quite simple and relatively painless procedure for restoring vision. Almost 90 percent people of those who have undergone cataract surgery regain a very good vision. During cataract operation, the surgeon removes your clouded lens and often transplants a clear, plastic intraocular lens (IOL) in its place. Scientists are busy developing new IOLs to make cataract surgery less complicated for surgeons than before. We may soon see that cataract surgery has become even simpler and even more effective than ever before.

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