Nuclear cataracts are eye diseases characterized by clouding of the eye lens in the center (nucleus). Nuclear cataracts are the most common types of cataracts, especially in the elderly.
Nuclear cataracts generally develop slowly. Over time, the lens will harden and change color to yellow or brown, which can interfere with vision. Untreated nuclear cataracts can lead to serious complications, such as blindness.
Causes of Nuclear Cataracts
The aging process is a major risk factor for nuclear cataracts. This is because as we get older, the proteins in the lens can clot and block the entry of light so that it interferes with the sufferer’s vision.
Apart from age, several other factors can increase a person’s risk of developing nuclear cataracts, including:
- Too often exposed to sunlight
- Have diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure
- Have had eye surgery
- Have had eye injuries
- Have long-term consumption of corticosteroids
- Have a family with cataracts
- Smoking and consuming excessive alcohol
Various Symptoms of Nuclear Cataracts
Most people with nuclear cataracts are not aware of visual disturbances in the early stages of cataracts. This is because cataracts only affect a small part of the eye lens. However, over time, cataracts will expand and cause several symptoms which include:
- Blurred or dim vision
- Double vision in the eye with cataracts
- Difficulty seeing objects at night
- Seeing halos around light sources
- Easier to glare if you see strong light in a dark place, such as from vehicle lights
- Frequently changing glasses
- Requires brighter light when reading or doing other activities
- Colors look more faded or yellow
How to Treat Nuclear Cataracts
How to treat nuclear cataracts can be done in 2 steps, namely through changes in lifestyle or surgery. For more details, see the explanation below:
Lifestyle changes are usually made to help patients manage their nuclear cataract symptoms. There are several ways you can do this, namely:
- Replace eyeglass prescriptions with stronger lenses.
- Use sunglasses with an anti-glare coating.
- Use a magnifying glass to aid reading.
- Avoid driving at night.
Nuclear cataract surgery
Surgery is the only effective nuclear cataract treatment. Cataract surgery is usually considered when it has affected the quality of life or interfered with daily activities, such as reading or driving a vehicle.
In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. Artificial lenses are also called intraocular lenses which are made of plastic or silicone. However, if the intraocular lens cannot be inserted, the patient must wear glasses or contact lenses to see clearly after the surgery.
Cataract surgery is generally safe and has a high success rate. After the surgery, you may feel some discomfort for a few days. However, after 1–2 weeks, you will be able to return to your activities with much better vision.
The initial symptoms of nuclear cataracts often go unnoticed. Also, the progression of the disease was slow. Both of these are factors that cause nuclear cataracts to be treated only when the symptoms are severe.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to have your eye health checked by a doctor regularly, about every 1-2 years, especially if you are over 65 years of age. You may need to have regular eye examinations from the age of 40 if you have risk factors for cataracts.