[msg type=notice]What is cataract and how to prevent it? Here are some important details you must know. [/msg]
My mother’s cataract on her left eye is getting worse. But Lasik surgery is still elective, considering her age, according to her ophthalmologist. She has decided to undergo surgery a few months from now.
[msg type=notice]What is cataract? [/msg]
Do you have blurry or hazy vision? It may mean that you have cataract.
At first, this eye condition starts out small and it won’t affect your vision. But you may notice that your vision is getting a little blurry.
What it does to your vision? It makes the sun’s light too bright or artificial light too glaring to see. As a result, it affects your vision when you drive at night as oncoming headlights cause more glare.
Then, the colors appear less bright than they were before.
If you think that you have a cataract, you should see an ophthalmologist for an eye examination.
[msg type=notice]Does cataract only affect older people? [/msg]
Sadly, it doesn’t, although most patients with this type of eye condition are older individuals. I’ve known younger people who have this condition and it doesn’t seem to bother them.
Most types of cataracts are related to aging. Thus, it’s very common for older people to suffer from it. This can occur on either or both eyes.
Fortunately, it’s not contagious and it won’t spread from one person to another.
It won’t affect vision, if it doesn’t cover the entire eye. Thus, surgery may not be needed.
It’s also not painful.
If it does affect your vision, however, you may need to undergo Lasik surgery. Fortunately, in the Philippines, there are many hospitals that offer cataract surgeries. The bad thing is that the operation costs a lot.
[msg type=notice]What causes cataract? [/msg]
I did ask this question to my mother’s ophthalmologist. And he replied with: “no one knows.” However, he did enumerate some risk factors, such as the following:
- UV from the sun
- Use of corticosteroid medicines
- Medicines for cholesterol reduction
- Eye injury or eye surgery
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Alcohol consumption
- Family history
Now, I’m worried with the last factor – family history. Since my mother has it, my eyes might be prone to it. I hope not.
Her ophthalmologist did say that natural supplements containing lutein may help in strengthening vision as people age. But they don’t prevent cataract.
Eating fruit and vegetables that contain high amount of antioxidants may prevent cataracts.
[msg type=notice]What can you do to prevent cataract from occurring? [/msg]
Or better yet, can it be prevented?
Ophthalmologists from all around the world are inconclusive about whether or not this condition can be prevented.
However, some studies suggested that certain nutrients and supplements may reduce your risk of suffering from it.
My mother’s ophthalmologist recommended I-Vites. It’s a food supplement that contains vitamins, lutein, zexanthin, zinc and selenium. When I asked him about Nutrilite’s Vision Health with Lutein, he did approve it.
Then again, he didn’t say that those products can 100% prevent cataract development.
But in a 10-year study of women who took dietary intakes of vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin, researchers found out that their risk of cataract has been reduced significantly.
What food sources of vitamin E you can eat?
- Sunflower seeds
Spinach and kale are great sources for lutein and zeaxanthin.
Taking of vitamin C and other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids may also help in reducing your risk of cataract.
To know more about products that may help in preventing cataract and improving your vision, please visit our healthy eyesight page.
Or you may consider these tips on how to prevent age-related macular degeneration as they, too, can help in preventing cataract development.
What is extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE)?
This is an old method of cataract surgery. It involves the removal of the eye’s natural lens. But it leaves the capsule that holds the lens in place.
Extracapsular cataract extraction requires smaller incision compared to the incision made during intracapsular cataract extraction, in which the lens and capsule are removed.
The phacoemulsification, on the other hand, is the latest cataract removal surgery that involves smaller incision. It is smaller than extracapsular cataract extraction.
What happens during extracapsular cataract extraction?
In this procedure, a tiny incision will be made in the outer edge of the cornea. The incision’s size will depend on the goal of the procedure. That is, if the doctor will remove the lens’ nucleus in one piece or it will be dissolved in tiny pieces and vacuumed out through phacoemulsification.
When the incision is done, the front of the capsule opens up and the surgeon removes the nucleus while the soft lens is suctioned out. The back of the capsule is left to strengthen so the eye can still support the placement of intraocular lens.
Once the natural lens is removed, an intraocular lens is installed behind the iris.
What is Lasik? Is it the same as cataract surgery?
Lasik is different from cataract surgery. But both of them have the same goal, i.e. to give you an improved vision.
Lasik focuses on improving vision for patients with nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Its main goal is to reshape the cornea.
Eye surgeon may still perform Lasik surgery even if you have cataract. The latter will not diminish the results of the former. However, you have to remember that cataract may grow in the future. This will surely obstruct vision, in which you will need a cataract surgery.
Unlike cataract surgery, Lasik is not covered by insurance. The reason for this is that it is considered as cosmetic in nature.
Cataract surgery may be covered by insurance. But this will depend on the maturity of the cataract.
How to know if you are a good candidate for Lasik or cataract surgery?
Not every person with cataract or eye vision problem is a good candidate for these procedures.
Your eye surgeon will not perform the procedure if you have a medical condition that will affect how you and your eyes respond to the procedure. For example, if you have conjunctivitis, you must wait for it to heal before you can undergo cataract surgery or Lasik.
If your body has trouble with healing, you will have a high risk of suffering from complications of these procedures.
Your eye surgeon may not recommend you to undergo these procedures if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The reason for this is that hormonal changes as the result of pregnancy may alter your eye condition. This will lead to changes in your vision during the course of the operation.
Thus, surgery may not be performed until your vision and hormones have been regulated or returned to normal.
How much does Lasik cost?
Per eye, it can cost around PHP80,000 in the Philippines. To make it affordable, you should inquire about the available financing plans. Your eye surgeon may give you discounted rates, depending on your condition.
What are the possible Lasik and cataract surgery complications?
Just like any other surgeries, these two procedures may cause unwanted yet temporary side effects. Even if the operations are successful, you may still experience halos or glare vision after.
The following are some side effects that will usually clear up a few days after the operation:
- Itchy eye
- Blurry vision
- Eye pain
- Bruising of the eye or eyelid
Other complications will include eye infection, bleeding during and after the operation, reduced vision, and damage to the retina.
How to prevent cataract and other eye diseases?
As mentioned earlier, there are no studies that could prove the ways to prevent cataracts or slow down their progression.
But there are several techniques that may prevent or slow down progression of eye diseases.
1. Undergo regular eye exam
You may think that because you are still young you do not need regular eye examinations.
But this is a common misconception.
Younger individuals are encouraged to have regular eye examinations to detect any abnormalities in their eyes. These tests can help in detecting cataracts and other diseases at their earliest stages.
Our family ophthalmologist recommends annual eye examination.
2. Do not smoke
The smoke gets into your eyes, which will cause blurry vision in the future. If you have tried to quit smoking but failed, you should consider asking your doctor about how to quit smoking. There are some medicines to help you out. Other natural strategies may also be of great assistance.
3. Do not drink alcohol
You may drink moderately. Excessive alcohol use is shown to increase your risk of developing cataracts.
4. Wear sunglasses
Most eye doctors recommend wearing of sunglasses to prevent cataracts and other eye diseases. However, I have read from Dr. Whitaker’s website that wearing of sunglasses can prevent cataracts is inaccurate.
According to him, the UV light may actually provide protection for your eyes against this eye condition. He based this theory on the incidence of cataracts in the US. Those who are living in the southwest have fewer cataracts. This is a place where UV light is greater. Thus, he theorized that getting a little sun may help protect your eyes against this eye disease.
Then again, Mayo Clinic and other health experts provide a different view.
5. Maintain ideal weight
Obesity affects the health of your eyes. Thus, work out to achieve healthy weight. If you have an ideal weight, you should consider exercising each week to maintain it. You do not need to be skinny to prevent cataracts and other eye diseases. You just need to reach healthy, ideal weight based on your height.
If you are overweight, you should reduce your calorie intake. Opt to eat more fruit and vegetables. Then, do not forget to exercise each week. If you could do it every day, then that would be better.
6. Follow a healthy diet
Your healthy workout must be paired with a healthy, balanced diet to make sure you will achieve your weight loss goal or maintain your ideal weight.
As mentioned, you should choose to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. This is to make sure that you are obtaining the right amount of vitamins and nutrients from natural sources. Although you can get them from natural supplements, it is still ideal to obtain them from natural food groups.
In a study with a large population, it showed that consuming a healthy diet high in vitamins and minerals was associated with a reduction of risk in developing cataracts. Eating fruit and vegetables is your safest bet in increasing your vitamins and minerals intake.
7. Drink tea
Tea contains high amount of antioxidants. According to several studies, drinking up to five cups a day may prevent cataracts or delay their development.
In addition to that, drinking tea regularly may lower blood sugar, which may result in the reduction of glucose in the eye lens. This will then lead to a lower incidence of cataracts.
Unfortunately, those studies about drinking tea in the prevention of cataracts are done in animals, specifically rats. We will wait for the results in human studies. Let us see if the same results will come up.
In the meantime, enjoy a cup of tea every day, even though you are not in the UK. Tea is a healthy drink, as long as you do not add sugar in it. It is a healthy substitute for soda, fruit drinks and other sugary beverages.
Cataract surgeries and Lasik have excellent results, usually. Despite that, it is still important that you know their complications, risks and side effects before you elect to undergo these procedures.
Your eye surgeon or ophthalmologist will tell you whether or not you are a good candidate for these procedures.
The ultimate prevention for the eye problems is not to grow old. But this is not possible.
Thus, the best way to stop them from occurring or developing is to take a healthy, balanced diet. Nutrition and lifestyle changes can be your best bets in preventing these eye problems. Although studies are still needed to prove that nutrition and foods can help, it does not hurt to try them.