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EAST YORKSHIRE

LOCAL OPTICAL COMMITTEE


PATIENT INFORMATION LEAFLETS
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C ATAR AC T
Cataract is caused by the lens inside the eye becoming cloudy. This can cause blurred
vision, dazzling from bright lights, and can even make things look double. The lens lies behind
the iris and the pupil. It works much like a camera lens. It focuses light onto the retina at the back
of the eye, where an image is recorded. The lens also adjusts the eye's focus, letting us see things
clearly both up close and far away. The lens is made of mostly water and protein. The protein is
arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and lets light pass through it.
Some symptoms
Slight blurring of vision
Spectacles always seem to need cleaning
Seeing slightly double
Change of colour vision, becoming more yellow
Difficulty with glare and bright lights
Cataracts are more likely in the elderly. Known risk factors for cataract include age,
family history, smoking, sunlight exposure, diabetes, trauma, and corticosteroid use.
A cataract can occur in either or both eyes. It cannot spread from one eye to the other.
Although most cataracts are related to aging, there are other types of cataract:
1.

Secondary cataract. Cataracts can form after surgery for other eye problems, such as
glaucoma. Cataracts also can develop in people who have other health problems, such as
diabetes. Cataracts are sometimes linked to steroid use.

2.

Traumatic cataract. Cataracts can develop after an eye injury, sometimes years later.

3.

Congenital cataract. Some babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood,
often in both eyes. These cataracts may be so small that they do not affect vision. If they do, the
lenses may need to be removed.

4.

Radiation cataract. Cataracts can develop after exposure to some types of radiation.

CRITIQUE

The symptoms of early cataract may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting,
anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If these measures do not help, the only effective
treatment for cataracts is surgery to remove your cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens
implant. This is done by an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) at a hospital. Lasers are not used to
remove cataracts and there is no evidence to suggest that changing your diet, taking vitamins or
using eye drops can cure cataracts.
The operation to remove your cataracts can be performed at any stage of their
development. There is no longer a reason to wait until your cataract is "ripe" before removing it.
This is a very common operation. The operation involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing
it with an artificial plastic lens (an intraocular implant). It is a routine operation that usually takes
10-20 minutes. It is often done as a day case.New multifocal intraocular lenses offer refractive
correction and give some patients the ability to see both close up and at a distance without
glasses after cataract surgery.
Wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight may help to delay cataract.
If you smoke, stop. Researchers also believe good nutrition can help reduce the risk of agerelated cataract. They recommend eating green leafy vegetables, fruit, and other foods with
antioxidants.
If you are age 60 or older, you should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every
two years. In addition to cataract, your eye care professional can check for signs of age-related
macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other vision disorders. Early treatment for many eye
diseases may save your sight.
1. Subjects taking vitamin C supplements for more than 10 years had a 45-77% lower risk
of early lens opacities (cataracts) and 83% lower risk of moderate lens opacities. The
higher the serum levels, the lower the risk of cataracts. Jacques, et al. The American

Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Oct. 1997. S.E. Hankinson, et al. 1992. BMJ: 305: 335-339.
Simon JA, Hudes ES J Clin Epidemiol 1999 Dec;52(12):1207-11
2. Vitamin E, vitamin C, alpha-lipoic acid, and taurine appear to offer protection against
lens damage caused by low level radiation. Bantseev, et al. Biochem Mol Biol Int 1997
Sep;42(6):1189-97.
3. Dietary lutein and cryptoxanthin and vitamin E were associated with 60 to 70% lower
risk of nuclear cataracts in those under age 65. Lyle, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 1999
Feb;69(2):272-7.
4. Dietary intake of protein, vitamins A, C, E, and carotene, niacin, riboflavin, and
thiamine significantly decreased the risk of all cataract types. (Combining a variety of
antioxidant nutrients produced the greatest effect.) Cumming RG, et al. Ophthalmology
2000 Mar;107(3):450-6 Leske, et al. Arch Ophthalmol 1991 Feb;109(2):244-51.
5. Vitamin E taken with bilberry extract (2mg/kg body weight) formation of senile
cataracts and macular degeneration in all of the rats who were given it. Fursova AXh, et al.
Adv Gerontol, 2005; 16:76-9
6. Low blood levels of vitamin E were associated with approximately twice the risk of both
cortical and nuclear cataracts, compared to median or high levels. Vitale, et al.
Epidemiology 1993 May;4(3):195-203
7. Smokers were 2.6 times as likely to develop posterior subcapsular cataracts than
nonsmokers. Hankinson, et al. JAMA 1992 Aug 26;268(8):994-8
8. Patients with senile cataracts were found to have significantly lower blood and
intraocular levels of the mineral selenium than controls. Karakucuk S, et al. Acta
Ophthalmol Scand 1995 Aug;73(4):329-32
9. Alpha lipoic acid can help prevent cataract formation as well as nerve degeneration and
radiation injury. Packer, et al. Free Radic Biol Med 1995 Aug;19(2):227-50
10. Procyanins (antioxidants found in grape seed, grape skin, pine bark, and bilberry)
prevent the development of experimentally induced cataracts in animal studies. Yamakoshi
J, et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Aug 14;50(17):4983-8.

Cataract
From Wikipedia Last modified on 25 January 2012, at 19:43From Wikipedia
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For other uses, see Cataract (disambiguation).


Cataract
Classification and external resources

Magnified view of cataract in human eye, seen on examination with a slit lamp using diffuse
illumination
ICD-10 H25-H26, H28, Q12.0
ICD-9 366
DiseasesDB 2179
MedlinePlus 001001
eMedicine article/1210914
View Eye Health Organizations
Tips on Talking to Your Doctor
How to Find an Eye Care Professional
Content last reviewed in September 2009.
This online resource guide provides information about cataracts. It answers questions about
causes and symptoms, and discusses diagnosis and types of treatment. It was adapted from Don't
Lose Sight of Cataract (NIH Publication No. 94-3463) and Cataract: What You Should
Know (NIH Publication No. 03-201).
The National Eye Institute (NEI) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is the
Federal government's lead agency for vision research that leads to sight-saving treatments and
plays a key role in reducing visual impairment and blindness.