What is it - When and how does it occur?
A cataract is a "clouding" of the lens of the eye, which is transparent
under normal conditions (fig.1,2). This clouding leads to blurry vision
as the lens physiologically helps to focus light on the retina.
It is usually a condition for patients over 50 years of age and it is a
rather expected result of the aging of our natural lens.
There are cases though of the pathological cataracts as well as i.e.:
- in diabetic patients (it may occur much earlier) or
- as a side effect of medications or radiation or even
- after a serious eye injury.
What are the symptoms of a cataract?
The clouding, in practical terms, means that our vision gradually gets worse and
the following frequent problems occur:
- reduction of our distant central vision
- intense sensitivity to light and glare
- feeling that we see less vivid and bright colors
- frequent changes in eyeglass prescription, abnormal for age.
When and how is it treated?
A cataract is treated only with surgery, under appropriate conditions.
A patient after consultation with an ophthalmologist takes the decision
to proceed with cataract surgery,keeping in mind though that:
- reduction of vision in combination with his needs determine the need of surgery and that
- the theory of "let it ripen" is no longer valid since it leads to very advanced and not easily treatable cataracts.
If a cataract causes functional vision problems, it is treated at an early stage with phacoemulsification.
Cataract Surgery / Phacoemulsification
It is the removal of cataract by the modern ultrasound method.
The cloudy lens of the eye is removed in a painless and highly effective way
(fig.3, 4) and is replaced with an intraocular lens, chosen to suit our patient's needs (fig.5).
The patient does not stay in the hospital and the vision recovery period is relatively short.
In the rare case of an overripe cataract (hyper mature), an eye specialist can proceed with the older method,
the extracapsular cataract extraction, which is the removal of the entire lens - which cannot be 'crushed' -
by making a bigger corneal incision that requires use of sutures. This method has a higher risk of complications
and a longer vision recovery period.
Therefore early diagnosis and treatment of the cataract is essential.
It reduces the risks for possible complications improving significantly patient’s vision and quality of life.
Digital content is courtesy of Prof.Oliver Findl www.findl.at
Digital content is courtesy of Alcon Iberia
Digital content: Credit to National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health.