A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens inside the eye just behind the pupil.
When the lens becomes cloudy, the light rays cannot pass easily through it and vision becomes blurred, both for near and distance objects. Sensitivity to glare in bright sunlight and distortion or ghosting of images may also occur.
Age is the most common cause, but cataracts can also occur in babies and children. They may develop as a result of injury or eye disease and can also be associated with medical conditions such as diabetes. Both smoking and exposure to sunlight increase the risk of cataracts.
Cataracts are not a growth or film over the eye, and are not caused as a result of overusing the eye, or eyestrain. You generally can’t see your cataract in the mirror.
In the early stages of a cataract, glasses or contact lenses can help correct minor visual problems but there are no non-surgical cataract treatments, such as eye drops, exercise or glasses, to make the cataract disappear once it has formed. Eventually the condition may worsen to the point where vision is seriously impaired. If this happens, the most effective treatment is to surgically remove the affected lens and replace it with an artificial lens. Cataract surgery is safe, effective and painless.
Types of Intra Ocular Lens (IOLs)
Up until recently, choosing the type of Lens Implant to correct your vision after cataract surgery was left entirely to the cataract surgeon. Today, there are many types of Intraocular Lens Implants (IOL) that your surgeon can use in order to provide you with the best results to match your lifestyle. Click here to learn more about different types of Intraocular Lenses.
Most cataract surgery is performed on a day-only basis under local anaesthesia. There are many variations in technique, the most common being phacoemulsification surgery, which is the state-of-the-art advanced technique that allows the cataract to be removed through a very small, secure opening about 3mm in length, with implantation of an intra-ocular lens chosen specifically to match your eye.
Your eye may be covered or protected for one night, until the review by your surgeon the next day. You will be able to function normally from Day 1 but strenuous activities must be avoided for some weeks.
Generally, when a cataract is removed it is replaced by a plastic intra-ocular lens. Normally, this will restore the distance vision that you had before the cataract developed, although you may still need glasses for some activities.
After the operation, your Ophthalmologist will prescribe eye drops and arrange for you to return for post-operative care over the following weeks. During this time glasses will be prescribed for your new eye, particularly to help with reading vision.