What is cataract?

Cataract is the opacification of the lens in the human eye. If left untreated, it causes the loss of vision. It is a common occurrence in Sub-Saharan Africa and drought prone regions of Asia. People from all walks of life fall victim to this disease but it is most common amongst the impoverished. The lack of health infrastructure combined with poor nutrition have proved to be the reason behind its prevalence in these regions. The number of ophthalmologists present in these countries is also very low, usually unable to match the number of patients they are able to treat.

The most common cause of cataract is old age, although it is found in children too. Newborns can contract it if the mother is exposed to diseases like rubella during pregnancy. If young cataract patients are exposed to further hardships like lack of hygiene, malnutrition, or exposure to ultraviolet rays and left untreated, chances are they are going to lose their eye-sight. Older patients usually contract the disease due to long term exposures to various health issues like diabetes and hypertension. Other causes include long term steroid medication, radiation therapy, vitamin C deficiency, smoking, alcohol consumption, radiation and various other triggers.

There are no proven medicines or eyedrops that improve cataracts. The only alternative is a replacement surgery for the lens.