Cataract

What is cataract?

A cataract is when the lens of your eye, which is normally clear and transparent, becomes cloudy. Cataracts can occur at any age but are most commonly diagnosed in older people. Majority of people over age of 60 have some degree of cataract. A cataract can occur in either eye or both eyes.

How do cataracts affect vision?

Cataracts interfere with the light entering the eye and can affect your ability to see clearly.If left untreated, cataracts may cause severe vision impairment. Around the world, cataracts are the number one cause of vision loss and blindness.

Symptoms include blurred, cloudy or dim vision, difficulty seeing in low-light condition, light and glare sensitivity, seeing halos and seeing faded or yellowing colours.

How is a cataract treated?

Early cataracts are often managed with a stronger pair of glasses and brighter lighting. Cataract removal by surgery should be considered if they are affecting your daily life. For example, you are no longer confident to drive or participate in hobbies. There are many lens options available and you may even be able to get rid of your reading glasses with the latest premium lenses. If you have cataracts in both eyes that require surgery, the surgery will be performed on each eye at separate times, usually four to eight weeks apart.

Cataract surgery is a safe and effective procedure. On the day of operation, drops will be put into your eye to dilate the pupil. The area around your eye will be washed and cleansed. The operation usually lasts less than half an hour and is almost painless. Most people choose to stay awake during surgery under local anesthetic to numb the nerves in and around the eye. After the operation, a patch is placed over your eye. Most people who have cataract surgery can go home the same day but you will need someone to drive you home.

What are the risks of cataract surgery?

As with any surgery, cataract surgery poses risks, but they are rare. These problems can include infection, bleeding, inflammation (pain, redness, swelling), loss of vision, double vision, dry eye, dropping eyelid and high or low eye pressure. With prompt medical attention, these problems can usually be treated successfully.

Sometimes the eye tissue that encloses the new artificial lens becomes cloudy and may blur your vision. This condition can develop months or years after cataract surgery and can be treated with a laser (posterior capsulotomy).

Is cataract surgery different in a patient with glaucoma?

If you have glaucoma and cataract, it is important to make sure the eye pressure is under control before removing the cataract. The exception would be if the cataract is causing glaucoma, which they can sometimes do. Once eye pressure is under control, cataract surgery can be performed as normal. Sometimes combining the cataract surgery with a newer type of glaucoma treatment known as MIGS may be recommended. MIGS stands for Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery and it involves inserting a small implant into your eye to improve fluid drainage and reduce eye pressure.

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