Cataract is a condition, in which the natural crystalline lens of the eye becomes opaque resulting in an impairment of your vision making it difficult to do your daily activities.
Cataracts are extremely common and most cataracts are the result of the normal ageing process.
Surgical removal of the cataract is usually safe and effective, resulting in an improvement of vision by letting light pass again to the retina.
A cataract forms slowly and causes few symptoms and do not alter the external appearance of the eye in any way.
The disease is asymptomatic in the early stages. Symptoms like decrease in clarity of vision that is not fully corrected with glasses can be seen in advanced stages.
- There is a loss in contrast sensitivity and so shadows and color vision is less vivid.
- A disturbing glare may be noticed as light is scattered by the cataract.
- Haloes may be observed around lights.
- Night vision may be reduced.
- In some cases, double vision may be noted.
Age-related metabolic changes of the lens fiber (i.e. senile cataract), traumatic cataract (i.e. cataract due to injury) and congenital cataract (born with) are the common causes of cataract. They may also be secondary to an underlying medical condition like diabetes, excessive exposure to sunlight or abuse of alcohol and smoking. Inflammatory condition of the eye i.e. uveitis can also lead to cataract.
Cataracts, if left untreated, can lead to impaired vision or total blindness. They also become harder to treat over time.
The lens of the eye is easily examined by your ophthalmologist and the changes in the lens characteristic of cataract can be seen using a slit lamp.
Surgical removal of the cataract is a simple short-stay procedure lasting between 20 – 30 min and is conducted under topical local anesthesia. Prior to the surgery, eye drops are used to dilate the pupil.
Phacoemulsification is a procedure, in which the natural lens is completely removed while maintaining the lens capsule in which the artificial intraocular lens is implanted. Before the phacoemulsification is performed, one or more incisions are made in the eye to allow the introduction of surgical instruments. The surgeon then removes the anterior face of the capsule that contains the lens inside the eye. The phaco probe is a handpiece with a titanium or steel needle. The tip of the needle vibrates at ultrasonic frequencies to sculpt and emulsify (soften) the cataract while a pump aspirates particles through the tip. The cataract is usually broken into two or four pieces and each piece is emulsified and aspirated out with suction.
What can you expect post-surgery?
After the surgery, you will be taken to the recovery area where a nurse will monitor you clinically. Gradually you will be asked to sit up and sip liquids.
After the surgery, you will probably be able to go home the same day. Have an adult family member take you home.
You can return to the normal activities within 24 hours after the surgery.
1. If I have cataract of both eyes, will the doctor treat both the eyes at the same time?
The surgeon may advise surgery for the second eye after a gap of 1 to 4 weeks.
2. When will my vision improve after the surgery?
You will be able to see clearly the day after the surgery.
3. When can I start driving after the surgery?
You can drive in the daytime. Avoid driving at night for a while till there is complete healing.