Cataracts (Eyes)



Cloudy Lens

A cataract is a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes opaque or cloudy, making vision difficult. Cataracts are painless and usually cause a slow, gradual loss of vision in the affected eye. Cataracts are common in elderly persons, but they may also be caused by some drugs, especially corticosteroids. Cataracts can also be an effect from a disease state. Cataracts are removed by surgery, now a routine and safe procedure.

Cataracts are an eye disorder that is common in elderly persons. To restore vision. the lens is removed surgically.

Removal of Cataracts Will Restore Vision

There are many different types of cataracts. One type is called congenital cataracts, and they are present at birth. They may be a result of chicken pox in the mother or a chromosomal abnormality such as menial retardation (Down’s syndrome). Traumatic cataracts can develop after an injury to the eye or after radiation therapy. Cataracts can also develop with certain diseases states, such as diabetes. High doses and long term treatment with chlorpromazine have caused drug-induced cataracts which are slowly reversible when the drug is stopped. Corticosteroids can also cause cataracts to develop. The risk is not related to the dose or the length of therapy. Usually steroid-associated cataracts are not reversible and approximately 10% are severe enough to require removal.

Common in Elderly: Most commonly, cataracts develop in the elderly, usually because the lens begins to lose some of its transparency as the result of certain chemical changes in the eye. They are known as senile cataractsand they often run in families. No risk factors have been proven to be definitively linked to their development. Cataracts are almost always painless, and their symptoms are usually a gradual lessening of vision and in some cases, double vision. An advanced cataract may cause everything to be seen in a yellowish tinge. Cataracts are sometimes classified as immature, mature or hypermature. An immature cataract is somewhat clear in the cortex and some vision is retained. These may he surgically removed to improve vision. A mature cataract is totally opaque and the pupil appears white. A hypermature or advanced cataract can swell and become leaky, causing an eye inflammation. Mature and hypermature cataracts are removed to prevent damage if the eye has the potential for good vision.

Treatment: The only treatment for cataracts is surgical removal. The patient’s visual needs and the degree of visual disability are considerations for planning cataract surgery. For example, if a patient has serious glaucoma or other eye disease, the removal of a cataract may not improve vision. But surgery may be strongly considered for those patients who have difficulty seeing. Cataract surgery is safe and usually can be performed under a local anesthesia in an outpatient setting. There is a small risk of infection, delays in healing or intraocular hemorrhage after cataract surgery, but the vast majority of patients do not experience these problems. The chances for good visual improvement are excellent in most patients. Before and after cataract removal, your eye doctor will give you detailed instructions on the use of special eye drops to prepare your eye for surgery and help prevent infection while it is healing. Cortisone drops may be prescribed to clear up inflammation. Antibiotic drops may he prescribed to help prevent infection for a few weeks following surgery. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions on how to use these eye drops or any other medication you may have for your eyes.

US Pharmacist
Copyright 2003 Jobson Publishing, LLC