I got told I have a Cataract what does that mean?
Let's start off with by the far the most common eye disease which is Cataract. For how common it is very arguable that is more of part of the aging process. Dr. Chappel normally says if you are above the age of 60 years old and tell him you don't have a cataract he doesn't believe you. What it is, is the lens inside your eye becomes hazy and if it get bad enough it stops light from reaching the macula (fovea), the one spot of the retina that actually sees 20/20, and your vision decrease dramatically. A lot of people tell me it is cloudy or films on the eye but normally not until very late in the cataract formation.
If you see a cataract as bad as the photo above that cataract should have been removed years ago. The other question I get asked a lot is how long until I need the cataract removed and the best answer anyone can give is I don't know. Cataracts are one of those things where people in their 40's may have already had to get cataract surgery and then there are people in their 90's that still don't need the surgery. That being said the best way to slow down cataract formation is UV protection whenever outside.
Now we are going to go into the weeds of it to talk about the main theory behind what causes a cataract. There are multiple chaperone molecules in the lens of the eye. Their job is to maintain transparency of the lens by maintaining the fiber structure of how the lens is organized that will allow light to travel through it and not to bounce around in the lens causing it to become translucent/hazy. The most important chaperone molecules are called alpha-crystallin molecules. That is the specific one that fixes the fiber structure of the lens of the eye, the damage is normally caused by UV light. The problem is once it fixes the fibers it get used up and we are born with only a set amount. That is why UV protection is such a big deal when it comes to cataract formation. There have been studies of rats showing adding alpha chaperones to a cataract decreases the haziness of the cataract. This will most likely not affect how we treat cataracts in 1st world countries but could become huge in 3rd world countries. Diabetes can also cause cataract formation but that is a subject for another day.
I just want to inform you that at Eyecare Redefined we have advanced technology that allows us to take a photo of your cataract without affecting the time of the exam or your wallet. This allows us to more precisely monitor your cataract. I don't expect you to understand the photo below that is an optometrist job but it is useful for detaching a very small difference in a cataract.