A snowstorm cataract is a type of cataract that is common in cold weather climates. It is caused by the freezing of the lens of the eye, which results in the formation of ice crystals. These ice crystals can cause the lens to become opaque, making it difficult for light to pass through. While snowstorm cataracts are not usually serious, they can be painful and cause temporary vision loss. If you live in a cold climate, it is important to be aware of this condition and how to prevent it. In this blog post, we will provide a detailed guide on snowstorm cataracts, including causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
What is a Snowstorm Cataract?
A snowstorm cataract is a type of cataract that forms in the eye as a result of exposure to intense cold or freezing temperatures. This type of cataract typically affects both eyes and can cause vision loss if left untreated. Snowstorm cataracts are most commonly seen in people who live in cold climates or who work outdoors in frigid conditions. Treatment for this condition typically involves surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear artificial lens.
The development of a snowstorm cataract is thought to be related to the formation of ice crystals within the eye. These crystals can damage the eye’s lens and cause it to become cloudy. Snowstorm cataracts tend to develop slowly over time and may not cause any symptoms in the early stages. As the cataract progresses, symptoms such as blurred vision, double vision, and difficulty seeing at night may occur. If left untreated, snowstorm cataracts can lead to blindness.
Causes of Snowstorm Cataracts
Snowstorm cataracts are most commonly caused by either an injury to the eye or by a medical condition that affects the eye.
Injuries to the eye can cause snowstorm cataracts in two ways: either by directly damaging the lens of the eye or by causing inflammation of the eye which then leads to damage of the lens. The most common type of injury that leads to snowstorm cataracts is a blow to the head, which can rupture blood vessels in the eye and cause inflammation. Other types of injuries that can cause snowstorm cataracts include chemical burns and exposure to ultraviolet light.
Certain medical conditions can also lead to snowstorm cataracts, even without any direct injury to the eye. These conditions include diabetes, age-related macular degeneration, and certain genetic disorders. In people with diabetes, high levels of sugar in the blood can damage proteins in the lens of the eye, leading to clouding.
Age-related macular degeneration is a deterioration of the central part of the retina, which can also lead to damage of the lens and the formation of snowstorm cataracts. These cataracts typically form in both eyes at the same time.
Certain genetic disorders, such as Stickler syndrome and Marfan syndrome, can also cause snowstorm cataracts. In people with Stickler syndrome, the collagen that makes up the lens of the eye is abnormal, leading to weakness and clouding. People with Marfan syndrome have an increased risk of dislocation of the lens of the eye, which can also lead to snowstorm cataracts.
Symptoms of Snowstorm Cataracts
The symptoms of snowstorm cataracts are relatively mild and may not be noticeable at first. However, as the cataract progresses, symptoms may become more severe and include:
Increased Sensitivity To Light
One of the most common signs of cataracts is increased sensitivity to light. For example, you may find that bright or direct sunlight irritates your eyes more than it used to. You may also find that you need to wear sunglasses more often and for a longer period when outdoors.
While snowstorm cataracts usually cause a mild blurriness, the severity of this symptom can increase if the cataract is left untreated. As the cataract grows and thickens, it will obstruct your vision by blocking out more and more light. This makes it difficult to see clearly at all distances and causes objects to appear fuzzy and unclear.
Glare is another common symptom associated with snowstorm cataracts. When you have this condition, driving at night or even during periods of low light can be extremely frustrating because of the excessive glare that is produced from headlight glare, street lamps, and other sources of artificial lighting. This glare can make it very difficult for those with snowstorm cataracts to see clearly while behind the wheel which can increase their risk for car accidents or other types of accidents or injuries due to poor visibility.
Difficulty seeing at night
An additional symptom of snowstorm cataracts is difficulty seeing at night. This may be due to the increased sensitivity to light and glare that you experience during the daytime, as well as the thickening of your cataract that blocks out more and more light as it progresses.
Glare or halos around lights
Sometimes, those with cataracts may experience a halo of light or glare around bright objects. This can be especially noticeable when driving at night, as you may see halos or glares around street lamps and other sources of artificial lighting. These halos and glares can make it difficult to see clearly and safely while behind the wheel, so it is important to take extra care when driving at night if you have this symptom.
Another symptom that you may experience if you have snowstorm cataracts is double vision. This occurs because your cataract interferes with how your eye can focus on an object, which then creates two images of the same object instead of one clear image. Double vision can be extremely frustrating because it makes it difficult to perform simple tasks like reading or writing, as well as more complex tasks like driving. It can also cause headaches and dizziness due to the strain that it puts on your eyes and brain.
How to Prevent Snowstorm Cataracts?
When the weather outside is frightful, your risk of developing snowstorm cataracts goes up. This condition is caused by exposure to bright light reflecting off of snow. The light can damage the cells in your eyes and cause them to break down. Over time, this can lead to cataracts.
There are some things you can do to protect your eyes from snowstorm cataracts:
Wear sunglasses or goggles that block out UV rays when you’re outdoors in the snow.
One of the most important things you can do to prevent snowstorm cataracts is to wear sunglasses or goggles that block out UV rays when you’re outdoors in the snow. Look for a pair that has 100% UV protection.
Wear a hat with a brim.
A hat with a brim will help keep the sun off your face and out of your eyes. Sometimes sunglasses alone aren’t enough to block out all of the harmful rays.
Stay indoors during peak sun hours.
If you can, try to stay indoors during the times when the sun is at its strongest. This is typically between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Make sure your glasses or contacts have an anti-reflective coating.
This will help reduce the amount of light that reaches your eyes. There are also special anti-reflective coatings that can be applied to your sunglasses or goggles.
If you already have cataracts, make sure to see your eye doctor regularly. They can monitor the progression of cataracts and let you know when it’s time to have surgery to remove them.
Treatments for Snowstorm Cataracts
There are a few different ways to treat snowstorm cataracts, depending on the severity of the cataract.
Some of these treatment methods are:
One of the most common ways to treat cataracts is through surgery.
During this process, the eye surgeon will make a small incision on your cornea and then remove the cloudy lens.
After that, they will place an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) into your eye to help you focus.
Cataract surgery is considered a safe and effective procedure and it can usually be done on an outpatient basis.
In some cases, however, you may need to stay overnight in the hospital for observation.
Eye Drops or Ointments
If your snowstorm cataract is not severe enough to require surgery, your doctor may prescribe eye drops or ointments to help with symptoms such as dry eyes or inflammation.
Some of these eye drops or ointments may contain steroids to help reduce inflammation.
If you have a snowstorm cataract that is not ready to be removed yet, your doctor may recommend a procedure called laser capsulotomy.
During this procedure, a laser is used to make a small hole in the capsule that surrounds the cloudy lens.
This can help improve your vision and make it easier for your doctor to remove the cataract when it is ready. Also, this treatment helps prevent the cataract from getting worse.
Snowstorm cataracts are relatively rare but can be serious if left untreated. If you experience any symptoms of a snowstorm cataract, it’s important to see an eye doctor right away. With early diagnosis and treatment, you can prevent further vision loss and protect your eyesight. Also, be sure to take precautions to prevent snowstorm cataracts if you live in a cold climate or work outdoors in frigid conditions.
Cataract surgery is a safe and painless procedure. At EyeMantra we have a team of experienced eye surgeons, who will be happy to answer any questions on cataract surgery, cataract surgery cost, cataract lens cost for different cataract surgery types- Phacoemulsification, MICS & Femto Laser Cataract. Call us at +91-9711116605 or email at [email protected] for inquiries.