Living Healthy

How to Diagnose and Treat Cataracts

According to the World Health Organization, there are at least 2.2 billion people with near or distant vision impairment with 94 million people suffering from cataracts.


By Team ArabiaMD

 • 4 min read • 
How to Diagnose and Treat Cataracts

Cataracts: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Cataracts are a common eye condition that affects a large number of people worldwide. This article will discuss the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for cataracts.

Causes of Cataracts

Cataracts occur when proteins in the lens of the eye clump together, causing a cloudy area to form. This clumping inhibits the transmission of signals from the lens to the retina, resulting in a vision impairment. The exact cause of cataracts is not known, but certain risk factors have been identified, including:

  • Aging
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Prolonged exposure to sunlight
  • Certain medications, such as corticosteroids
  • Eye injuries or inflammation

Symptoms of Cataracts

Common signs and symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Blurred, clouded, or dim vision
  • Sensitivity to glare and light
  • Trouble seeing at night
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Yellowing or fading of colors
  • Double vision in the affected eye
  • The need to frequently change your prescription glasses

It is important to note that cataracts usually develop slowly and may not cause noticeable problems with your eyesight in the early stages. However, over time, they can interfere with your vision and daily activities.

Diagnosis of Cataracts

If you suspect you have cataracts, it is important to consult with an eye doctor for a proper diagnosis. The doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and perform an eye examination. The following tests may be conducted:

  • Visual acuity test: This test measures how well you can see by reading from an eye chart.
  • Retinal exam: The doctor uses an ophthalmoscope or a slit lamp to examine the lens of your eyes for signs of cataracts.
  • Slit-lamp examination: This allows the doctor to examine the structures at the front of your eyes under magnification.
  • Applanation tonometry: This test measures the fluid pressure in your eyes.

Treatment Options for Cataracts

When diagnosed with cataracts, there are various treatment options available. The treatment plan will depend on the severity and type of cataract. The options include:

Non-Surgical Treatments

Early treatment is important in improving your vision and managing cataract symptoms. Non-surgical treatments include:

  • Anti-glare glasses, new eyeglasses, or magnifying lenses to improve vision
  • Coatings and tints on the lenses to reduce symptoms
  • Positioning reading lights and lamps for better visibility
  • Wearing hats and quality sunglasses outdoors to prevent further cataract development

Surgical Treatment

Surgery is considered when non-surgical options are not effective, and a cataract interferes with daily life. The surgery involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. Factors such as corrected vision, lifestyle impact, and other eye conditions will be considered before deciding on surgery. The procedure is done on one eye at a time and typically performed under local anesthesia. After the surgery, post-operative care, including medication and follow-up visits, is necessary.

Common Methods of Removing Cataracts

The most common methods of cataract removal include:

  • Phacoemulsification: This method involves using ultrasonic waves to break up the lens and remove it through a tiny incision. An artificial lens is then inserted into the eye. Stitches may or may not be required.
  • Extracapsular cataract surgery: This procedure involves a larger incision to remove the lens in one piece. Stitches are necessary to close the wound.
  • Intracapsular cataract surgery: This procedure involves removing the entire lens and its capsule through a larger incision. It is used for advanced cataracts.

How to Prepare for Your Appointment

Preparing for your appointment with an eye doctor can help ensure a smooth consultation. Here are some steps to prepare:

  • List your symptoms
  • Document all medications you are currently taking
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor

It is important to consult a doctor if you experience any changes in your vision. Not all vision changes are related to cataracts, so a proper diagnosis is necessary to determine the cause and appropriate treatment options.