If you have symptoms that suggest a possibility of cataract, get it diagnosed immediately. Identifying the type of cataract helps doctors determine the most appropriate course of treatment. Details on eye movement, pupillary responses, eye pressure and pupils on dilation are recorded.
Your eye is not just a window to the world, but also a window to understand other health conditions. The main purpose of the diagnosis is to determine if vision deterioration is particularly due to cataract and not other eye diseases which have similar conditions. The right diagnosis helps in deciding if the eye is suitable for cataract surgery.
Steps in diagnosing cataracts
Comprehensive Eye Examination is conducted by both Optometrist and Ophthalmologist to determine the type, location and size of the cataract.
Examination by Optometrist
Detailed history and physical examination of the eyes – Review of your medical history helps in determining cataract. Do discuss the existing illness and medications. Ensure that you carry your existing spectacles and stop the use of your contact lens before the appointment.
- Visual Acuity Test– The impairment in the vision can be easily detected by asking you to read an eye chart known as the Snellen eye chart. This is a chart with variation in the size of letters and is read from various distances usually 20 feet. Each eye is tested individually. The normal visual acuity is taken at 20/20.
- Refraction Test– If there is a reduction in visual acuity, a pinhole card is used to exclude short-sightedness as the cause of the vision loss. This determines the need for changes in your eyeglass or contact lens prescription.
- Tonometry test for Glaucoma screening– This is a standard test to measure fluid pressure (Intra Ocular Pressure) inside the eye. This is commonly known as the ‘Puff Test’ as the new method does not need to ‘touch’ your eyes, but uses air to take measurements.
- Pupil Dilation: This is a retinal examination where dilating drops are put in the eyes to enlarge the pupils. It is advisable to wear sunglasses after pupil dilation due to light sensitivity and blurred vision. Due to the dilated eyes, one is not allowed to self-drive after this check for your own safety.
Examination with Ophthalmologist
- Slit Lamp examination for cornea: The structure in front of the eye is magnified using a microscope called the slit lamp. The front parts of your eye – the cornea, iris, lens and the spaces in between are illuminated using a slit lamp to investigate minute abnormalities.
- Fundus Examination for retina: In the fundus examination the pupil is dilated which increases the size of your pupil. The observation on the vitreous, optic nerve, blood vessels, macula and retina is recorded. Here the retina is checked using an ophthalmoscope.
The above series of tests help in the management of the cataract progression. Tests like color perception, contrast sensitivity, and reaction to glare are conducted on case to case basis .The only effective treatment for cataracts is to have them surgically removed. In the treatment plan the further course of action is discussed like medications, pre – operative tests, blood tests, an ECG and chest X-ray. Diabetes, hypertension and heart conditions are also checked prior cataract surgery. The only cataract-specific test is the A-Scan. This determines the power of the artificial intra ocular lens which will need to be inserted in your eyes once the cataract affected natural lens is removed during surgery.
Cataract if left untreated, can cause blindness.
Ensure you get the right diagnosis at the right time.