By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

Responsible for 51% of the world’s blindness is the leading cause of blindness- Cataract. It is the clouding of the lens of the eye and impedes the passage of light leading to a decrease in vision. Cataract develops slowly and does not affect eyesight in its early stage.

The lens, positioned behind the iris in the eye focuses light that passes through the eye on the retina, producing clear images. Cataract forms on the lens scattering in-coming light, producing blurred images. As age increases, the lens becomes less flexible, less transparent and its proteins denature.

Classification of cataract is based on the part of the lens that is affected; they are posterior subcapsular, cortical and nuclear cataract. Congenital cataract is seen amongst children. It may be as a result of infection contracted by their mother during pregnancy.

Risk factors include cigarette smoking, high alcohol intake, ultraviolet light especially UV-B, diabetes, high blood pressure and a high body mass index. Previous eye injury, inflammation or surgery also exposes one to the risk of cataract.

Symptoms of cataract include increased difficulty with vision at night, sensitivity to light and glare, frequent changes in lens prescription, fading colors, blurred and double vision in a single eye.

To prevent the development of cataract, it is necessary to use sunglasses while in the sun from a young age, quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, choose a healthy diet, reduce alcohol use and go for a regular eye check. A healthy diet is one that provides the body with essential nutrition and can be got from plant and animal-based foods. It is low in fat, sugar, salt and contaminants.



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