Cataracts Essay

This essay has a total of 2155 words and 9 pages.


What is a cataract? A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the normally
transparent lens of the eye. Its effect on vision depends on the extent of the cloudiness.
Small spots in the lens may cause little or no vision loss. As the opacity thickens, it
prevents light rays from passing through the lens and focusing on the retina, the light
sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. Early lens changes or opacities may not disturb
vision. But as the lens continues to change, several specific symptoms including blurred
vision; sensitivity to light and glare; increased nearsightedness; or distorted images in
either eye, may develop. Cataracts are usually associated with aging. As a person grows
older, the lens becomes less flexible and loses some of its ability to focus light onto the
retina. As the lens becomes harder, it tends to develop cataracts. Cataracts can eventually
become milky white and fill the lens. The patient is then considered blind. Doctors do not
know how to prevent or cure most types of cataracts. But surgery to remove the diseased
lens can improve vision for most cataract patients. After such surgery, some patients.
After such surgery, some patients must wear strong glasses or contact lenses to see well
enough to carry on normal activities. In most cases, however, surgeons replace the
diseased lens with a plastic intraocular lens. A patient who receives an intraocular lens
may or may not need glasses or contact lenses to see well.
Physiology Of A Normal System
The eye normally consist of a lens that is located behind the iris, the colored
portion of the eye, and the pupil, the dark center of the eye. Tiny ligaments, called
zonules, support the lens capsule within the eye (American Academy of Ophthalmology,
10). The lens has three parts, the capsule, the nucleus, and the cortex. The outer
membrane, or capsule, surrounds the cortex which in turn surrounds the center or nucleus
of the lens. If you imagine the lens as a piece of fruit, the capsule is the skin, the
cortex is

the fleshy fruit, and the nucleus is the pit (American Academy of Ophthalmology, 10).
There are various ways to help prevent cataracts, but it has been found that if
people would "watch their weight they might see." Evidence shows that what the scale
says really can affect a persons future. This time, research suggests that lower weights
could mean clearer vision (Wilson, 1996, 28). When scientist studied the eyes of 17, 764
men for five years, they saw that the guys who were the heaviest were nearly twice as
likely to get cataracts as were the lightest guys (Archives of Opthalmology, September,
1995). So considering that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world,
cutting risks in half is a big deal (Wilson, 1996). For now, it's a smart thing to eat a diet
that will keep you at a disease fighting trim weight so that the good normal eye can stay
The lens of the eye is usually transparent, so the light can pass through it.
Biochemical changes may occur within the lens, or trauma may cause fiber changes that
cause the lens to become cloudy and finally opaque, thus blocking the light rays from
reaching the retina (Long, 1993, 1313). A mature cataract is one that separates easily
from the lens capsule. It used to be thought that a cataract had to be mature before it
could be extracted. Now they can be removed whenever the vision loss interferes with the
persons activities of daily living. Cataracts may develop in both eyes, such as with senile
cataracts, but usually they do not develop at the same time (Long, 1993, 1313).
Interview and Case Study
Mrs. M.A. Williams, a very independent 81-year-old widowed woman, under went
cataract surgery on her left eye in 1987. She said "the right one had a small cataract on it
and has not gotten any worse so I get a general check up on it once a year. My vision has
improved to were I can read everything but fine print without my glasses."

She has a pair of reading glasses to read the fine print, but says "I have really good sight
for being 81 years old almost 82." She reported to Dr. Fry's office the day before the
surgery and they gave her drops to put in that night. She stayed in a motel in Garden City
and went in the next day for surgery. She went for a postoperative check-up with her
surgeon, Dr. Fry, one day following surgery. She cheerfully said, "now I am one in six
hundred members of "The Cataract Club," which has a convention for follow-up
information for us once a year in Garden City, Kansas."
Medical Treatment
There are many different types of treatment for cataracts, but some have proven to
be more affective than others. As you grow older, you need more light, whether you have
vision problems or not (Larson, 1996). Different types of eyeglasses such as bifocals or
trifocals that are stronger than normal may better help an elderly person to see in the early
stages of cataracts. There are also many magnifiers that come in many different styles
these can be hand-held, freestanding, mounted on a headband, or worn around the neck.
Everything from magnifiers to items such as clocks, telephones, playing cards that have
extra large letters or numbers, and large size game boards are available from mail order
catalogs and stores throughout the United States (Larson, 1996).
Cataract surgery is really considered to be the best of all treatments. Before a
patient can have this surgery their eye physician and surgeon should have concurrently
agreed that this is medically possible for that particular patient. The patients eye will be
measured to determine the proper power of the intraocular lens that will be placed in their
eye during surgery (American Academy of Ophthalmology, 5). The day of surgery the
patient is brought in on an outpatient basis. They are then given eye drops, and
medication to help them relax. A local anesthetic makes the operation painless. Though
they may see light and movement, they will not be able to see the surgery while it is
happening, and will not have to worry about keeping their eye open or closed (American

Academy of Ophthalmology, 5). After the operation the surgeon places a guard over the
eye. After a short time in the recovery room the patient is ready to go home.
"Cataract surgery is probably the best rehabilitative operation n all of medicine,"
says Dr. Zarbin (Miller, 1996, 51)
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