MAINTAIN HEALTHY VISION: INFORMATIVE KNOWLEDGE ON CATARACT
Mamorake Sedibe holds a Bachelor of Optometrist Degree from the then University of the North, Limpopo Province. Sedibe has been practicing as an optometrist for close to eighteen years. She now shares her knowledge on cataract with us, as it is one of the major contributors to blindness worldwide.
WHAT IS CATARACT
Cataract is the changing of the interior lens inside the eye. Naturally, the inner lens must be transparent. Immediately when it starts to be cloudy it means that cataract is developing. Sedibe explains that this depends to a large extent on where the cataract starts. “If it starts outside of the inner lens, it is going to take long before you realise that you have cataract”. “If it starts on the inside, towards the pupil, it is then a person can notice quickly that he/she can`t see clearly”, Sedibe elaborates. She further clarifies that “if it starts on the inside, already it is going to close your vision. If it starts on the outside of the lens it is going to take longer until it closes your vision”.
TYPES OF CATARACT
Congenital cataract is found in children. They can be born with congenital cataract or it can develop in childhood. This type of cataract can be caused by injury, infection or poor development of the child. Sedibe explains that, although there are cases of congenital cataract, however, it is not very common.
Another example of cataract is acquired cataract which is age related. When a person is young he/she can jump and run. Sedibe argues that it is the same with our eyes. “When you are young the eyes are flexible. The lens is held by cyliary muscles. As we grow older our muscles become stiff and those cyliary muscles are not flexible like before”. “You will find that a person can see properly at a distance but not when it comes to reading. The person prefers to put the book very close when reading. The cyliary muscles have to stretch and make the lens roundish so that the person can see”, Sedibe explains.
Sub-capsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens. People with diabetes or those taking high doses of steroid medications have a greater risk of developing a sub-capsular cataract. Furthermore, traumatic cataract occurs when the eye experiences injury. For example, when something hits the eye.
MORE FACTS ON CATARACT
Cataract is treatable only through its removal, which is done through surgery. According to Sedibe, cataract can affect one or both eyes. In a case where it has affected both eyes, you will often find that it progresses quicker on the other side. Cataract is not easily self-diagnosed. The only way to obtain an accurate diagnosis is to consult with a professional. “Not all distorted vision is a result of cataract. If you have developed a blurred vision, consult immediately as a professional is the only one who can do a proper diagnosis”, advises Sedibe.