Cataracts (White Water)

06 Jun, 2022

When your doctor tells you that you have cataracts or white water in the eye, do not feel distressed, as it is a common disease affecting more than half the population over 65 years of age. The only option for cataracts is surgery, which is generally safe and effective.

What is a cataract?

Contrary to popular belief, a cataract is not white water covering the eyes and preventing vision; it is formed when protein builds up in the lens of your eye and makes it cloudy. As a result, the eye lens begins to gradually lose transparency until it becomes opaque. This keeps light from passing through, thus reaching the retina.

Causes

A cataract may appear at any age, but it is more common in older people; as the eye lens becomes less flexible, less transparent, and thicker with age. On the other hand, pediatric or congenital cataracts are primarily caused by a genetic mutation. Therefore, we are all at risk of cataracts at some point.

What are the symptoms of a cataract?

  • Blurry/cloudy vision
  • Problems with glare during the day and difficulties driving at night
  • Changes in the way you see color
  • Double vision in the affected eye


Treatment

The only treatment for cataracts is surgical intervention using ultrasound or conventional surgery; laser can also be used in later stages of the treatment. Regarding prevention, no studies have demonstrated successful ways to prevent cataracts or slow down their development. Nonetheless, periodic eye checks, an efficient treatment plan for people with diabetes, and wearing sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection can be helpful. In general, cataract surgery is one of the most successful and safest surgeries, as the risk of serious complications is less than 1%.

When does surgery becomes necessary?

Usually, the patient decides when to have an operation. However, if blurry vision affects the patient's ability to read or do day-to-day work, the decision must be taken as soon as possible. Previously, ophthalmologists used to wait until the cataract had matured. However, with the development of ophthalmic surgery (phaco technique "phacoemulsification"), this is no longer necessary as the procedure can be performed at any stage of the disease.