WHAT IS IT

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s normally clear lens, leading to progressive impairment of vision.

cataract

CAUSES

  • AGEING

This is the most common factor, as cataract formation is part of the normal ageing process. Most start developing at the age of 40 to 50 but do not affect vision till later in life. The rate of progression or ‘ripening’ also varies between individuals and between both eyes.

  • EYE INJURY
  • DIABETES
  • HIGH MYOPIA
  • MEDICATIONS – STEROIDS, RADIOTHERAPY
  • ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION
  • SMOKING

SYMPTOMS

  • Blurred vision, as if looking through a translucent piece of glass
  • Poorer vision even in bright light
  • Seeing double or multiple images
  • Reduced ability to distinguish colours
  • Glare, especially when driving at nights
  • Seeing haloes around lights

DIAGNOSIS

Cataracts can be diagnosed and evaluated by an eye doctor, who will then be able to advise on the treatment options.

PREVENTION

There is no way to prevent the development of age-related cataracts but measures can be put in place to help avoid or slow down their progression in other conditions.

  • Good control of blood glucose levels in diabetics
  • Limiting use of medications eg steroids, diuretics
  • Use of sunglasses especially if doing outdoor activities
  • Avoid smoking

TREATMENT

As long as vision remains satisfactory, no treatment is necessary.

When vision starts to deteriorate, your eye doctor may recommend stronger eye glasses or medicated eyedrops as temporary measures.

When poor vision interferes with or disrupts normal daily activities, surgery would then be recommended.

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Post cataract removal with clear lens implant in the eye

Currently, the preferred surgical procedure is phacoemulsification. This involves the insertion of an ultrasonic instrument through a small incision in the cornea to break up the cataract. The pieces are removed via the same incision, leaving the supporting capsule of the lens behind. An artificial lens implant is then inserted.

Phacoemulsification is usually performed as a day/ambulatory procedure, with a faster recovery period than previous methods of surgery. Complications are uncommon.