Understanding Incipient Cataract: Early Detection and Prevention Tips

Shilpi Jain
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Incipient Cataracts

Cataracts are one of the most common causes of blindness. 

As we age, the lens of our eye can become cloudy and opaque, leading to a gradual loss of vision. 

The condition affects around 92.6% of adults above the age of 80. 

Like its name, Incipient Cataract is the elementary form of Cataract.

The condition is characterized by grayish opaqueness in the eye’s lens. 

If we ignore the Cataract at this stage, it may lead to complete opacification of the lens. 

Read along to learn about Incipient Cataracts, their symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

What is an Incipient Cataract

An Incipient Cataract is the early stage of a Cataract. 

The eye’s lens is only mildly cloudy, and vision may not be significantly impacted. 

Patients with this condition show localized grayish opaqueness in the eyes. 

Because the size of the Cataract is so tiny, the cause behind the condition cannot be identified.

However, as the condition progresses, the cloudiness of the lens will become more pronounced.

It can lead to blurred vision, difficulty seeing at night, and other visual disturbances.

Symptoms of Incipient Cataracts

The symptoms of an Incipient Cataract can be subtle and may not be noticeable at first.

Patients may experience unexplained light sensitivity, eye fatigue, or headaches. 

However, as the Cataract progresses, they may experience some or all of the following symptoms, 

Blurred or hazy vision

The lens starts to lose its transparency due to lipid peroxidation.

Patients may notice vision problems like cloudy vision and contrast sensitivity. 

Increased sensitivity to glare

People with Incipient cataracts may experience sensitivity to glare, such as headlights or bright room lights.

Additionally, in sensitivity, they may experience eye pain and headaches in bright lights. 

Poor night vision

night blindness vitaminsSource: Babic_Goran_From_Getty_Images
poor night vision

People can experience difficulty seeing in low-light conditions, such as at night or in dimly lit rooms.

This means the eyes take a long time to adjust from light to dark.

They may face difficulty while driving at night or in cinemas. 

Changes in color perception

The peroxidation of proteins causes clumps in the lens leading to a yellowish or brownish tint in the vision. 

Patients may experience difficulty in differentiating colors like blue and purple. 

Difficulty reading

The clouding of the lens may cause difficulty in reading in the patients. 

They may have trouble reading small print or have to hold reading material far from their eyes. 

Warning
You must see your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam if you have any of these symptoms. Early detection and treatment of an incipient cataract can help prevent vision loss.

Causes of Incipient Cataracts

Incipient Cataracts commonly start above the age of 40. 

They may have the following causes, 

Genetics

If cataracts run in the family, it increases the risk of developing them.

Studies have reported hereditary Cataracts in 8.3%- 25% of cases. 

The lens opacities can be due to other ocular anomalies like Microphthalmia, Aniridia. 

Environmental factors

Exposure to UV radiation from the sun, smoking, and certain medications can increase your risk of developing cataracts.

A study shows that UV light damages lens proteins and leads to oxidative stress. 

It substitutes for oxygen to trigger harmful oxidative reactions in the lens causing protein breakdown and clumping.

This leads to the accumulation of protein clumps in the lens, causing yellowing of the vision and ultimately leading to cataracts. 

Diabetes

People with Diabetes are at a higher risk of developing cataracts.

High blood sugar levels over time can accelerate the progression of Cataracts in diabetic people.

It causes structural changes in the eye’s lens, leading to cataracts. 

Previous eye injuries

Trauma to the eye can damage the lens and increase the risk of Cataracts.

People who have had previous eye surgery, such as a vitrectomy for retinal surgery, may be at a higher risk of developing cataracts.

Treatment options for Incipient Cataracts

The only definitive treatment available to treat Cataracts is surgery

Doctors may prescribe primary treatment options such as glasses and lenses for Incipient cataracts.

For eye pain and headaches, they may prescribe NSAID eye drops.

Incipient Cataract has the following treatment options, 

Glasses or contact lenses

Eye drops and glassesSource: Svetlana_Monyakova_from_Getty_Images
Eye drops and glasses

In the early stages of Cataracts, your ophthalmologist might prescribe wearing glasses or contact lenses, which can help improve vision. 

These glasses and corrective lenses do not treat the condition but help you have clear vision. 

They compensate for the cloudiness in the natural lens and enhance visual acuity. 

But, as the Cataract develops, these glasses or contacts may no longer be enough to improve vision.

Anti-glare sunglasses

Incipient CataractSource: perfectwave
Anti-glare sunglasses

Wearing sunglasses with an Anti-glare coating can help with light sensitivity.

It reduces the glare patients experience from bright lights.

Lifestyle changes

Eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and reducing exposure to UV radiation can all help slow the progression of cataracts. 

Also read: Learn more tips about post-surgery eyecare in our article After Cataract Surgery: How to Manage Your Vision.

Conclusion

Incipient cataracts are early signs of Senile cataracts. 

They are characterized by tiny grayish opacification of the eye lens. 

Doctors usually prescribe glasses and specialized lenses for alleviating vision problems. 

If you are experiencing any changes in your vision, consult your doctor for an early diagnosis and treatment. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What causes incipient Cataracts?

Incipient Cataracts are caused due to age, family history of cataracts, or lifestyle habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. These may lead to protein breakdown in the eye lens leading to its opacification.

What is the difference between incipient Cataracts and immature?

The visual acuity in incipient cataract patients is more than those in the case of immature cataracts. The Incipient is just at the start of the condition, while an immature Cataract lens has developed 15% opacification.

What are the clinical signs of an Incipient Cataract?

Clinical signs of Incipient Cataract include cloudy vision, light sensitivity, poor night vision, and difficulty reading. The symptoms can further lead to Senile cataracts resulting in complete blindness.

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