Catarac is an eye condition, specific to the lens, which is normally transparent and flexible. The lens is subjected to a gradual clouding that causes loss of vision and discomfort. Cataracts mainly affect people over the age of 60, and even 2/3 of people over the age of 85, due to the natural aging of the lens. It can also affect younger people due to various factors such as ocular trauma, other diseases of the eye or chronic corticosteroid use.
The patient will complain of decreased visual acuity in one or both eyes. The vision becomes veiled, obscured, colors are perceived less vividly, contrasts are not as sharp, a halo forms around light sources, the eye twinkles when looking up to the light or when driving at night, vision can be split on an eye - these are all signs that may point to the formation of a cataract. It should be noted that all the symptoms of cataracts are also painless.
An ophthalmologist can diagnose cataract via an eye exam and the use of a slit lamp after instillation of eye drops that dilate the pupil (mydriatic eye drops).
Surgical intervention is justified if the cataract hinders vision and is a disability for daily activities such as driving, reading, and professional or leisure activities. Cataract surgery, performed under local anesthesia, is very common, and complications are rare. In fact, this operation includes replacing the lens with an artificial lens that can often perfectly restore the patient's vision.
If the cataract is a natural phenomenon associated with aging, or in some cases, secondary to other diseases, prevention is necessary: a good control of diabetes prevents the emergence of more frequent cataracts, and corticosteroids should be used sparingly. If their long-term use is necessary, an annual Ophthalmologic monitoring is recommended.