What Is Nuclear Sclerosis

What Is Nuclear Sclerosis?

Nuclear sclerosis (also known as nuclear cataract) is a common condition affecting the eyes. It occurs when there are too many particles in the lens of your eye. These particles cause damage to the retina, which is responsible for seeing light. If left untreated, it leads to blindness or nearsightedness.

The term “nuclear” refers to radioactive material, such as uranium or thorium. The word “sclerosis” means inflammation, and the disease is called “cataract.” Cataracts occur when the lens becomes cloudy due to a buildup of debris inside the eye. They can affect any part of your body, but they’re most commonly found in your eyes.

In humans, cataracts usually develop from exposure to ultraviolet radiation during birth or childhood. However, they can also result from other causes such as smoking cigarettes or eating contaminated food. Other risk factors include age, gender and family history.

Symptoms of Nuclear Sclerosing Chorea (NSCC)

As with all forms of cancer, symptoms vary depending on where the tumor is located within the eye. Symptoms may include:

Blurred vision – Some people experience blurry vision, while others do not have any problems at all. Your doctor will be able to determine if you need glasses or contact lenses. In some cases, your vision might improve after surgery to remove the affected portion of your eye.

Though some people have no problems that affect their vision, others develop an astigmatism or long- or short-sightedness. In these cases, glasses or contact lenses are usually required to see clearly.

Flashes of light – A small number of people with peripheral NSCC experience “flashes” or brief moments of seeing light even when their eyes are closed. This is caused by the tumor causing electrical charges in the retina. It is known as bruit and most commonly affects the part of the eye known as the macula.

Stabbing pain – Although relatively rare, some people may experience loss of vision and eye pain. They may also have blurry vision or even double vision. When this happens, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Diagnosing Nuclear Sclerosis

Nuclear cataracts are usually diagnosed during a routine eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. They will look at your eye through a microscope and perform other tests to see if you have a cataract.

It is usually fairly easy to identify the signs of cataracts, which are caused by the lens becoming cloudy. This can occur at any age, although it is more common in older people. If you are at risk of developing cataracts or other eye conditions, you should have regular eye tests every one or two years.

Once your doctor has confirmed cataracts, they will advise you about the best treatment options. This may be surgery, which involves removing the affected lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. It may also involve a procedure known as ionotophoresis, where medication is applied directly to the eye to help dissolve the cataract.

Once a cataract has developed, there is not much you can do except treat the symptoms. If your cataract is at an early stage, you can take steps to prevent it from getting worse. This includes:

Reducing your exposure to sunlight

Wearing sunglasses with UV protection whenever you go out

Having regular eye tests to detect any problems as early as possible

Treating any underlying conditions, such as diabetes or glaucoma

How is Nuclear Sclerosis treated?

The most common treatment for a cataract is surgery. This involves removing the affected lens and replacing it with an artificial lens, which is known as an intraocular lens (IOL). The procedure takes about 15 minutes and is usually performed on an outpatient basis. Most people return to work and their normal daily activities the next day.

There are many different types of IOLs available, including foldable lenses, variable-focus lenses, segmented lenses and multifocal lenses. An IOL is matched to the specific vision needs of the patient.

The type of lens used and whether you have cataract surgery done on one or both eyes, depends on a variety of factors. These include your age, general health and lifestyle. Your doctor will advise accordingly.

Although rare, there are some potential complications associated with cataract surgery, such as infection and bleeding inside the eye. Your doctor should explain the risks and benefits of any procedure before it is carried out.

Once your cataract is removed and an IOL is implanted, your eye will be much more light sensitive. This is known as photophobia. Your eye may also be more light sensitive for the first few weeks after the procedure. You can reduce this by wearing dark sunglasses when you go outside and avoiding direct sunlight as much as possible.

What is the prognosis?

Most people make a full recovery from cataract surgery and see an immediate improvement in their vision. However, it can take up to a year for your eyesight to return to normal after the IOL is implanted. Some people experience an improvement in their near vision but not their distance vision, while others have the opposite experience.

Occasionally, the IOL does not improve your vision at all or only provides limited improvement. In these cases, a second surgical procedure may be required to implant a multifocal IOL or replacement of the original IOL.

The cataract itself will not worsen or spread to your other eye. However, you are at a higher risk of developing another cataract in the future. It is also likely that if you do develop another cataract, it may occur at a younger age.

Many people find that their quality of life improves after cataract surgery. Not only can they see better, they can be more independent and active. For example, many people are able to resume driving again following the surgery. Others return to hobbies they had to give up because of their diminishing eyesight.

If you have any concerns about cataracts or think you may need surgery, make an appointment to see your ophthalmologist or optometrist immediately.

What are the alternatives?

At present, there is no alternative to treating cataracts. Laser surgery and other non-surgical procedures are sometimes used to treat the symptoms of cataracts, such as glare and halos, but the cataract itself cannot be treated or removed.

In some cases, your doctor may decide that treatment is not needed. This may be the case if you have a small cataract or a cataract that has not yet begun to affect your vision significantly. In these instances, your eye doctor may recommend monitoring the cataract to see when it begins to affect your visual acuity.

It is important that you keep visiting your eye doctor on a regular basis to have your eyes examined. Early detection and treatment of any eye condition is vital to preserving your quality of vision.

Sources & references used in this article:

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Progression of nuclear sclerosis and long-term visual results of vitrectomy with transforming growth factor beta-2 for macular holes by JT Thompson, BM Glaser, RN Sjaarda… – American journal of …, 1995 – Elsevier

Nonvitrectomizing vitreous surgery: a strategy to prevent postoperative nuclear sclerosis by Y Saito, JM Lewis, I Park, Y Ikuno, A Hayashi, M Ohji… – Ophthalmology, 1999 – Elsevier

Assessment of nuclear sclerosis after nonvitrectomizing vitreous surgery by M Sawa, Y Saito, A Hayashi, S Kusaka, M Ohji… – American journal of …, 2001 – Elsevier

Nuclear sclerotic cataract after vitrectomy for idiopathic epiretinal membranes causing macular pucker by GM Cherfan, RG Michels, S de Bustros, C Enger… – American journal of …, 1991 – Elsevier

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An automatic system for classification of nuclear sclerosis from slit-lamp photographs by S Fan, CR Dyer, L Hubbard, B Klein – International Conference on Medical …, 2003 – Springer

Polygenic effects and cigarette smoking account for a portion of the familial aggregation of nuclear sclerosis by AP Klein, P Duggal, KE Lee, JA O’Neill… – American journal of …, 2005 – academic.oup.com

Myopic refractive shift represents dense nuclear sclerosis and thin lens in lenticular myopia by YK Cho, W Huang, E Nishimura – Clinical and Experimental …, 2013 – Wiley Online Library