Senile Cataract: Understanding the Condition

Shilpi Jain
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Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
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Senile Cataract

Senile Cataract is a condition that is caused as an individual age. 

The eye condition causes cloudy vision due to an increase in the lens’s thickness affecting the lens’s transparency. 

A 2020 study showed that Cataract surgery affects around 88.17% of people over 50 years worldwide. 

It can lead to complete blindness but is a reversible condition. 

Read along to learn the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatments of Senile Cataracts. 

Senile Cataracts Symptoms

Patients with Senile Cataracts commonly show gradual vision deterioration.

Characteristic symptoms of Senile Cataract include

Photosensitivity

People can experience pain or discomfort in the eyes in brightly lit environments.

It can also occur due to glare during the day or even with oncoming headlights at night. 

Myopic shift

The development of Cataracts often increases nearsightedness in the eye. 

This could result from an increase in the eye’s refractive index, distorting the image formed on the retina. 

Monocular diplopia

Monocular diplopia, commonly known as double vision, is also a symptom of Senile Cataract. 

The increased thickness of the intraocular lens causes refraction of entering light.

It leads to a phenomenon called lens within the lens, which causes double vision. 

Causes

Senile Cataracts mainly develop due to age. 

Other causes can include genetics and lifestyle choices. 

Some of the most common causes of Senile Cataracts are, 

Age

One of the most common reasons for senile cataracts is age. 

The lenses in the eyes become less elastic and tend to become more brittle as people age. 

It leads to protein buildup in the lens resulting in the opaqueness of the lens. 

Older adults also commonly suffer from conditions such as Diabetes and Heart disease which can lead to Cataracts. 

Diabetes and Cataract
The eyes’ lenses grow less flexible, translucent, and thicker as we age. High blood sugar levels over time can accelerate the progression of Cataracts in diabetic people by causing structural changes in the eye’s lens.

Genetics

In some cases, Senile Cataracts are hereditary and tend to run in the families. 

Mutations in specific genes can lead to Senile Cataracts, which can be passed from parents to their children. 

Underlying genetic conditions like Age-related Macular Degeneration can also cause Senile Cataracts. 

Unhealthy lifestyle

Unhealthy lifestyle habits such as drinking excessive alcohol or smoking can also increase the risk of Senile Cataracts. 

Another common condition, Obesity, can also lead to Senile Cataracts and other health problems.

Stages

The progression of Senile Cataracts is different for every individual.

It primarily depends on the causes behind the condition. 

This developing Cataract has been divided into four stages, 

Cortical senile cataract

The Cataract occurs in the cortex of the eye. 

Patients at this stage experience decreased total proteins, amino acids, and potassium levels.

There is also an increase in sodium concentration and marked lens hydration. 

This is all followed by the coagulation of protein which increases the thickness of the lens. 

Nuclear senile cataract

At this stage, the previous degenerative changes start to intensify. 

It results in opacification due to age-related nuclear Sclerosis. 

It leads to compaction of the nucleus, which with dehydration, results in hard cataract development. 

Immature senile Cataract (ISC)

The opacification of the lens progresses even more in this stage. 

The lens becomes grayish-white.

The clear cortex present creates an iris shadow that interferes with clear vision. 

For some patients in this stage, inflammation in the eye lens may occur due to continued hydration. 

In such cases, the condition is known as Intumescent Cataract.

Mature senile cataract (MSC)

The lens loses its full transparency at this stage as the opacification is complete. 

It also includes the opaqueness in the cortex. 

The gray lens turns pearly white in this stage. 

Hypermature senile cataract

Hypermaturity sets in at this stage when the Cataract is left in the situ. 

With the lens opaqueness, milky fluid fills in the capsule.

Further, this Cataract may occur in Morgagnian hyper mature cataracts or Sclerotic type hyper mature cataracts.

Diagnosis

Doctors usually perform a complete ocular examination.

They primarily examine visual acuity for nearsightedness and farsightedness. 

If the patients experience photosensitivity, visual acuity should be tested in a brightly lit room. 

Contrast sensitivity may also be checked if the medical history has risk factors that could lead to cataracts. 

Diagnosis can also include the following:

Slit-lamp examination

Slit Lamp ExamSource: microgen_from_Getty_Images
Slit Lamp Exam

The test allows your doctor to examine the presence of any structures at the front of your eye.

The microscope is named a slit lamp because it uses intense light to illuminate the different parts of your eye. 

The slit helps your doctor to view these structures in small sections.

It makes it easier to detect any slight abnormalities.

Retinal exam

For a retinal exam, your eye doctor puts drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils. 

This makes it easier for the doctor to examine the retina. 

They can examine your lens for cataract symptoms using a slit lamp or an ophthalmoscope.

Applanation tonometry

Uveitis TreatmentSource: yacobchuk_from_Getty_Images
Tanometry Examination

The test helps doctors to measure intraocular pressure. 

In case of mature or hyper mature Senile Cataracts, other exams may include, 

  • Ocular imaging studies such as ultrasonography
  • Computed Tomography (CT) 
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) 
Warning
Senile Cataracts can lead to complete blindness if not diagnosed or treated timely. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.

Treatments

Cataract surgery is the definitive treatment for Senile Cataracts. 

In the procedure, the affected lens is replaced with an artificial one. 

It can be accomplished via the following procedures:

Phacoemulsification

The procedure involves the extraction of the lens nucleus through an opening in the anterior capsule.

It uses an ultrasonically driven needle to fragment the nucleus of the Cataract. 

The lens is removed through a tiny incision. 

Extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE)

The surgery involves the removal of the lens nucleus through an opening in the anterior capsule.

Doctors remove the lens through a relatively large limbal incision.

They do not remove the posterior capsule with the lens, which serves as a platform for the new lens. 

Laser-assisted cataract surgery

This newer technique uses a laser to break up the cloudy lens, making it easier to remove.

The femtosecond laser (FSL) is helpful in eye surgeries due to its ultrafast pulses in 10-15 seconds.

The intraocular lens (IOL) implantation is used in combination with each of these techniques. 

Recommended Article:
To learn more about Senile Cataract treatments, read Cataract Treatment Options: A Guide to Clear Vision.

Conclusion

Senile Cataract is a condition that primarily affects older adults. 

This age-related eye condition causes problems with clear vision.

It shows symptoms such as cloudy vision, yellowish tint, and photosensitivity. 

While aging is the most common cause, genetics and an unhealthy lifestyle can also increase the risk of cataracts.

Surgery is the only effective treatment option available for patients. 

Along with this, a healthy lifestyle and postoperative medications and care can ensure complete recovery. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes Senile Cataracts?

Aging is the most common cause of Senile Cataracts. With age, the lens tissues loosen their transparency. Other causes may include genetics, overexposure to the sun, and unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Is Senile Cataract curable?

Yes, Senile Cataract is a curable condition. Doctors perform Cataract surgery to remove and replace the affected lens with an artificial lens.

What age does Senile Cataract start?

Senile Cataract usually affects older adults aged above 50. The prevalence of Senile Cataracts is around 62% in people above 60 years of age.

Citations:
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