Seeing Better Than You Have Before

3 Things You Need To Know About Traumatic Cataracts

by Linda Bates

A cataract is an eye disorder characterized by clouding of the cornea. Cataracts can develop as a natural consequence of the aging process, but they can also occur in response to eye trauma. The latter type of cataracts are known as traumatic cataracts. Here are three things you need to know about them.

What are the signs of cataracts?

After you suffer an eye injury, you need to closely monitor your eyes for signs of cataract development. If your vision becomes clouded or blurred, or if you start having trouble seeing at night or in dim rooms, you may have a cataract. Your eyes may be sensitive to light, and when you look at a light, you may see a halo around it. If you notice some or all of these problems after suffering an eye injury, make sure to tell your optometrist immediately.

How do eye injuries cause cataracts?

Both blunt and penetrating eye injuries can lead to the formation of cataracts. In the case of blunt injuries, like getting punched in the eye, your eye ricochets against your orbital bones, similar to what happens to your brain when you get a concussion. The force of this movement can disrupt your cornea and lead to the formation of a cataract.

Penetrating trauma to the cornea, like a puncture wound, leads to cortical opacification in the damaged area. This means that the damaged section of your cornea becomes white and milky, starting at the outer edge of the cornea and working inwards. If the hole in your cornea is large enough, the whole lens will become opaque.

How are traumatic cataracts treated?

If you develop a traumatic cataract, you will need to undergo surgery. During this procedure, your damaged cornea will be removed and a donor cornea will be sewn in its place. Generally, patients are awake for this procedure, but local anesthesia will be used to numb your eyes. If you're very anxious about your surgery, ask your ophthalmologist if you can get general anesthesia and sleep through the procedure instead.

Being told that you need a new cornea can be scary, but corneal transplants are a routine procedure for ophthalmologists. About 33,000 Americans undergo this procedure every year, and corneal transplantation is one of the most successful transplantation procedures available.

If you recently suffered an eye injury, pay attention for changes in your vision. These changes could be a sign that you are developing a traumatic cataract.