CATARACT

A cataract is an opacity or cloudiness in the lens of the eye. It starts as a partial opacity either at the centre or the side of the lens and develops into total opacity. This cloudiness develops inside the lens and restricts light from passing through the eye. When this occurs, night driving and distant vision is affected.

The most common cause of cataracts is ageing.

Other causes include:

1. Congenital (present at birth)

2. Health problems, such as diabetes

3. Medications, such as steroids

4. Injury to the eye

Symptoms

1. Cloudy or blurry vision that does not improve with glasses.

2. Light sensitivity and/or glare from bright lights

3. Poor or reduced night vision

4. Double vision (this symptom often goes away as the cataract grows

5. Second sight, where near vision improves and one is able to read without reading glasses this state is usually temporary and is followed by progressive loss of distance vision.

6. A need for frequent changes of glasses or contact lenses.

Preventing a Cataract

No studies have proved how to prevent cataracts orslow the progression of cataracts. There are two ways of effectively removing cataracts.

1. Phacoemulsification cataract surgery:

In this procedure, a very small cut (2mm) is made through which the natural lens is extracted by phacoemulsification machine (it breaks the cataract into small pieces and sucks it out) then a foldable artificial lens is inserted into the eye. As the incision made is very small, it requires no stitch and heals within a very short time.

2. Small incision cataract surgery:

In this procedure, the natural lens is removed manually. The cut made is bigger than that of phacoemulsification and may require a stitch.

BENEFITS OF TREATMENT

City Eye Hospital offers people with cataract problems a range of potentially life changing benefits.

These include:

1. Improved sight and colour vision.

2. Improved clarity of vision

3. Increased independence

4. Improved quality of life

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. How is a cataract detected? It is identified through a check by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. It is important that a thorough eye examination is performed to ensure that there are no other causes of blurry vision.

2. How fast does a cataract develop? This varies among individuals and may vary between eyes.

3. When should a person with a cataract have surgery? Cataract surgery is usually considered when loss of vision begins to interfere with daily activities or affects quality of life.

4. How is a cataract treated? During the early stages of a cataract, a change in glasses may improve the clarity of vision though this is usually temporary. When cataracts begin to interfere with day to day activities, surgical removal is the only effective treatment.

5. Will I need glasses after the surgery? Most patients will require glasses for fine visual tasks/reading , although most patients can get by without them for most activities.

6. Does the operation hurt? It only hurts during the local anaesthesia administration as the needle goes through the lower eyelid. In most cases no injection is given as the eye is numbed using eye drops. There is no pain during surgery. Some people experience slight discomfort after the surgery. The anesthetic injection stops the eyefrom moving during the operation and your eyelidsare held open by a special instrument, so all youhave to do is to lie still for the surgery.

7. Can problems occur after surgery? Cataractsurgery is safe and has high successrates. However, it is important to understand that complications can occur during or after surgery. If you experience even the slightest problem after surgery, do not hesitate to contact your doctor immediately.

The following signs, especially, should NEVER be ignored:

1. Significant pain

2. Rapidly deteriorating vision

3. Eyelid swelling and redness