Suﬀering from these symptoms?
Blurry or “cloudy window” vision
Seeing haloes around lights
Inability to see in dim light
Sensitivity to light and glare
Frequent changes in your glasses or contact lens prescription
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens, and is most commonly caused by ageing. Other causes include diabetes, trauma, inflammation of the eye, as well as the prolonged use of certain medications such as steroid eye drops.
How are cataracts treated?
Cataract surgery at The Eye Centre is performed as a microsurgical technique, using high frequency ultrasound under topical anaesthesia. Following removal of the cataract, a synthetic lens is implanted to replace the hazy, natural lens. Only the most advanced lenses, which are carefully selected for each patient, are used. The procedure is painless and takes less than twenty minutes to perform.
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More about Cataract Surgery & FAQ’s
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide and are the most common cause of vision loss in people over the age of 40.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a progressive clouding of the natural lens of the eye, which is located behind the pupil of the eye.
This clouding can disrupt the vision.
What causes cataracts?
The lens of the eye acts much like a camera lens.
Light from the outside travels through the front of the eye (the cornea), the pupil and the lens to focus on the retina at the back of the eye.
From here the retina, optic nerve and brain process the images and form vision.
The lens is made up of mostly water and protein that is arranged in a special way to keep it clear.
A cataract forms when these proteins are disrupted and clump together.
This prevents light from passing through to the back of the eye and causes loss of vision.
Other factors which increase the risk of developing cataract include cigarette smoking, air pollution and heavy alcohol use.
What are the typical symptoms of a cataract?
An early cataract doesn’t typically cause any visual symptoms.
As it becomes denser it can cause a variety of symptoms including cloudy vision, glare, haloes and reduced colour perception.
Some patients may also find that their glasses are no longer providing adequate vision.
How are cataracts diagnosed?
A thorough eye examination by your ophthalmologist will identify a cataract or any other eye condition that may be blurring the vision.
If there isn’t much visual loss, your doctor may prescribe glasses, contact lenses or other visual aids.
What are the different types of cataracts?
A subcapsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens.
This type of cataract occurs commonly in people with diabetes or those taking high doses of steroid medications.
A cortical cataract occurs in the cortex of the lens and is characterised by white, wedge-like opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and move to the centre of the lens in a spoke-like fashion.
A nuclear cataract forms deep in the central zone or nucleus of the lens.
This type of cataract is usually associated with ageing.
How are cataracts treated?
In the early stages of cataract development, vision may be improved by a change in the spectacle prescription.
The symptoms may no longer be relieved as the cataract progresses over time.
The only treatment available for a cataract that is interfering with vision, and cannot be corrected with glasses, is surgery.
Surgery allows the patient to see better and it may also reduce the patient’s dependency on glasses.
How is cataract surgery performed?
Cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis under local anaesthesia (the patient is awake but does not feel anything).
When cataracts are present in both eyes, surgery is usually performed separately.
During the surgery, the clouded lens is broken up with high-frequency soundwaves (ultrasound) and then suctioned from the eye, a process called phacoemulsification.
The clouded lens is then replaced with a clear, synthetic implant called an intraocular lens (IOL).
The prescription of the artificial lens is selected to fit the patient’s eye and to restore vision. It requires no care and becomes a permanent part of the eye.
New IOL’s are constantly being developed to improve surgical outcomes for both the surgeon and patient.
The monofocal IOL has a fixed focus for one distance.
Presbyopia-correcting IOL’s (also known as multifocal IOL’s) have the potential to help patients see at more than one distance.
Toric IOL’s are designed to correct the visual loss from cataract and astigmatism during surgery.
What can be expected after surgery?
There may be some mild discomfort and itching after surgery. The eye may also be teary and sensitive to light for a short time after the procedure.
Drops to prevent infection and inflammation are prescribed for the patient to use for a couple of weeks following surgery.
Patients are advised to avoid situations that may lead to a blow on the eye as well as strenuous activities such as heavy-lifting for a couple of weeks afterwards.
Normal non-strenuous activities such as reading, driving and bending can be resumed the day after the procedure.
How soon does the vision improve after surgery?
Most patients will have good vision in the operated eye about 1 week after the surgery. Some patients may still need to wear glasses after cataract surgery.
Is cataract surgery safe?
Complications after cataract surgery are uncommon and most can be treated successfully. The risk of complications is higher if the patient has another eye disease or a serious medical condition.
If you are actively seeking diagnosis and/or treatment for cataracts, you can contact The Eye Centre directly to book your consultation with one of our resident ophthalmologists – because we care about eye care.