What is Cataract?
There is normally a natural lens inside the eyeball. This lens is necessary for focusing images onto the light sensitive film at the back of the eye called the “Retina”. Normally this lens is crystal clear to allow the passage of light through it. When Cataracts develop, this lens becomes cloudy like frosted glass and obstructs the light rays passing through it impeding vision.
Who gets cataracts?
The majority of people get cataracts with age. This usually occurs slowly and gradually for many years. Until such times when cataracts become thick enough, only then symptoms become obvious. In a small minority of people, cataract may develop secondary to other causes such as trauma, certain drugs, recurrent inflammation in eyes and some general medical conditions. These can progress very rapidly.
What is the treatment?
The only effective treatment available for cataracts is “Surgery”. In recent years there have been many advances in cataract surgery with the advent of miniaturisation. The surgery is performed through a very tiny little hole in the eye. A small probe is then inserted into the eye to fragment the cataract and suck it out in tiny little pieces. Once the natural lens of the eye is removed, an artificial lens (implant) is inserted. These lenses are made of a very malleable material. They are rolled and inserted through the tiny little hole in the eye folded. Once inside the eye, this lens unfolds itself and opens up into a full size lens. The wound is so small that in most cases will not require any sutures. Cataract surgery has become a very safe procedure. However, any surgery no matter what does carry a certain risk of complications and cataract surgery is no exception.
Do I need this implant and how long will it last?
Without implants, the eye is unable to focus the image onto the retina effectively and results in very blurred vision. In such cases, very thick glasses or contact lenses have to be worn. These are often very heavy and troublesome and this practice has been mostly abandoned. The insertion of implants has become standard during all cataract surgery. They are made of very inert materials the body does not reject them and therefore remain in the eye permanently. They do not require any attention.
When should cataract surgery be performed?
As previously mentioned, most cataracts develop with age and most elderly people have a certain degree of cataracts. Not all require attention. Surgery is only recommended when cataracts starts reducing vision significantly that is affecting the normal carry out of daily duties. Usually, your optician or eye doctor will be able to tell you if there is enough cataracts and surgery is warranted.
What is the latest with cataract surgery?
New techniques and refined new surgical instruments have transformed cataract surgery. It is now termed “Refractive Cataract Surgery”:
- Vision can now be corrected fully with minimum need for glasses after the operation.
- Vision can also be corrected for near with specially designed new generation of Implants.
- Tiny incisions, without sutures and excellent healing.
- Incisions are hidden at natural borders becomes indistinct after healing.
- The incision is tailored to the individual eye so as to reduce astigmatism and even correct it.
- Trauma to the eye is kept to a minimum with very fast recovery.
- Foldable implants are now better quality and more stable.
- Anaesthesia can now be administered like eye drops without the need for needles.
Most cataract operations can now be performed in less than 10 minutes.
“The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter – often an unconscious but still faithful interpreter – in the eye.” Charlotte Bronte