Cataract is an extremely common eye disorder characterised by clouding on the eye lens. It can either occur in one or both eyes. In cases where it affects both eyes, the impact is more severe in one eye than the other. Cataract begins when proteins in the eye form clumps which prevent the lens from sending clear images to the retina.
Sometimes people may not even realise that they have cataracts. Many cataracts are not substantial enough to require any treatment. However, the only effective discourse for cataracts is surgery. Surgery may not be needed in patients who suffer only mild symptoms of the disorder.
When is Treatment Needed?
The optometrist will recommend treatment for cataract depending on the extent to which your vision loss is affecting your daily activities. For example, treatment may be recommended if cataract affects:
- Your ability to look after yourself or someone else
- Your driving
- Going out
- Seeing people's faces
- Your work
- Watching television
Simple Approaches to Treat Cataracts
During the early stages, strong glasses and bright lights may help improve vision. If a patient is not ready for a surgery yet, some simple approaches can help him/her in maintaining their cataracts. They are:
- Make sure your glasses are of the accurate number
- Use a magnifying glass for reading
- Get brighter lamps for your house such as halogen lights may help a lot
- Wear sunglasses to reduce glare on sunny days
- Try to refrain from driving at night
Surgical Treatment for Cataracts
The above mentioned approaches are only temporary solutions. In spite of taking measures, the cataracts will continue to develop and gradually impair your eyesight for worse, eventually leading to a need for surgery.
The specialist will recommend surgery if the patient:
- Is having trouble looking after himself/herself
- Is having difficulties looking after someone else
- Cannot drive, or finds driving difficult
- Has problems leaving the house
- Finds it hard to see or recognize people's faces
- Has problems doing his/her job
- Cannot read properly
- Can no longer watch television properly
The most common cataract operation is called phacoemulsification, which is sometimes referred to as phaco extracapsular extraction. Cataracts can't be treated with laser surgery (when beams of energy are used). Catarct surgery involves removing the cloudy lens in your eye. It is done through replacing the natural eye lens with an artificial, clear plastic lens. This procedure is known as an intraocular implant or intraocular lens (IOL).
Before the operation, your eye will be measured in order to prepare the artificial lens which will replace your natural eye lens. Your overall health is also assessed.
Before the Operation
Just before you are taken for the surgery, eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupil (the black circle in the middle of your eye) will be put into your eye. The surgeons will also give you a local anaesthesia to prevent you from feeling any pain during the procedure.
During the Operation
The ophthalmologist will make a small incision in the cornea of your eye, inserting a tiny probe through this cut. The probe breaks up the cloudy lens into tiny pieces using ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves). The tiny pieces will then be sucked out of your eye. After that, the doctor will insert an artificial lens through the incision. The operation usually takes 15-30 minutes.
After the Operation
Your ophthalmologist will probably advise you to take it easy, for example, by:
- Avoiding sports and any vigorous activities
- Not rubbing your eye
- Not getting soapy water in your eye
- Wearing a pad over your eye to protect it
- Not wearing eye make-up until your recovery is complete
When the cataracts are age-related, two other operations may be performed to remove them. They are- manual extracapsular extraction, and intracapsular extraction. In case you are experiencing a cloudy vision lately, consult your eye doctor immediately for diagnosis. Your vision may be at risk.
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