Diagnosis of Cataract is done after a thorough assessment of symptoms and comprehensive examination of the eye. The Ophthalmologist examines the patient’s eye for any kind of changes in the lens. The initial examination is followed by some specific tests that can more precisely evaluate the eye condition:
- Visual acuity test is done to measure the reading vision and distance vision of the patient. It is generally poor in cataract patients.
- Refraction to determine if glasses can improve vision and quality of life of the patient.
- Slit Lamp Examination is done to verify the type of cataract, and the health of rest of the eye.
- Glare sensitivity test is done to check the glare symptoms, with and without bright lights. A Cataract patient will notice strong glares in bright light.
- Macular function test to evaluate the eye’s acute vision center to define expected improvement after surgery.
- Contrast sensitivity test to check patient’s ability to differentiate between different shades of grey.
- Tonometry to measure fluid pressure inside the eye.
- Pupil dilation is done using eye drops to thoroughly examine the lens and retina and also to rule out other eye conditions.
Prevention of Cataract
Cataract is not a preventable eye condition. However, the chances of developing a cataract may be delayed by the following:
- Wearing UV protection sunglasses during day time/when out in snow/on altitudes.
- Eating diet high in antioxidants, carotenoids, vitamins (especially C and E) and minerals (like citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables)
- Following a healthy lifestyle
- Doing regular eye exercises
- Avoid smoking
- Avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol
- Monitoring eye health in case of long term use of certain medications like corticosteroids and statins.
- Controlling blood-sugar and blood pressure levels either through medication or by following healthy diet and lifestyle
Medication /non surgical treatment of cataract
Although surgery is the only cure for cataract, it can be delayed till the time it does not cause gross vision loss or disturbs daily routine activity. In such cases there is a strong need of regular follow up and eye examination to track the progress of cataract. This is required to avoid any kind of sudden or unnoticed vision loss due to cataract. Moreover before opting for surgery, the ophthalmologist and patient should consider the need of surgery based on how the cataract interferes with the quality of life of the patient.
There are some measures that can help in management of early cataracts like:
- Use of stronger eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Strong lighting in the living/work area
- Pupil dilating medications
However a very important aspect in decision making is the general health including associated systemic medical conditions, the age and visual needs of the patient. It is advisable to discuss this in detail with your doctor when taking/deferring the decision to get operated.