Early-onset cataracts: Experts urge not to delay essential treatment

Cataracts are most likely to affect people over the age of 50, although diseases such as diabetes can also lead to it.

July 29, 2019 Inga Louisa Stevens

Most commonly found in elderly patients, cataracts are the clouding over of the lens of the eye. This slowly decreases the amount of light that enters the eye which, over time, seriously reduces the quality of vision.

Symptoms

Early symptoms include blurred vision, decrease in contrast, rapidly changing glasses prescription, glare in the presence of light, and difficulty reading from far and near.

Cataracts are most likely to affect people over the age of 50, although diseases such as diabetes, side effects of some medications, previous eye surgery or even myopia can also lead to the onset of cataracts. It is estimated that by age 65, over 90 per cent of people will have developed or sought treatment for cataracts. The chances of a person losing some vision, due to cataracts, increases by 50 per cent between the ages of 75 and 85.

Correcting the problem

However, when 48-year-old Dubai-resident Mark Costello began experiencing deteriorating vision, seeing halos around light and an uncomfortable dryness in his eyes, he quickly sought help from Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai.  

After meeting with Dr. Avinash Gurbaxani, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon in Uveitis and Medical Retinal Diseases and Cataract Surgery at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, Costello was diagnosed as suffering from cataracts and booked in for surgery to correct the problem.

The operation to remove Costello’s cataracts and correct his vision took just 20 minutes and was carried out by Dr. Avinash, with support from the team at Moorfields Dubai. Costello had trifocal intra ocular implants, which means he can read, work on the computer and tablet and see in the distance without glasses. This one-time treatment gives patients spectacle independence for the rest of their lives.

Causes

“Most people will develop cataracts in their lifetime, and this is mostly due to age,” explains Dr. Gurbaxani. “Anyone suffering from blurred vision, decrease in contrast, changes to their glasses prescription, glare in the presence of light, and difficulty reading from far and near should seek attention, as there is a strong chance that they have cataracts.”

However, Dr Gurbaxani adds that there are several things that can cause cataracts in younger individuals. “Trauma is one reason for developing a cataract. Excessive sun exposure, smoking as well as the use of certain mediations (such as steroids) can cause early age cataract. Uncontrolled diabetes can also be a cause of developing a cataract under the age of 50.”

In the UAE, in particular, Dr. Gurbaxani is seeing an upward trend of cataract formation in younger individuals, which he believes could be related to the excessive sun exposure and possibly to a widespread habit of smoking.

Excessive sun exposure, smoking as well as the use of certain mediations, such as steroids, can cause early age cataract.