Cataract is the clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye.
Advancing age is a primary reason for cataract. With age, protein of the lens turns opaque. Other causes of cataract are metabolic disorders such as diabetes, excessive exposure to sunlight, prolonged use of corticosteroid medications, statin medicines used to reduce cholesterol, hormone replacement therapy, previous eye surgery, lifestyle disorders like heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, injury or inflammation of the eye.
Initially cataract has little effect on your vision. Then you may notice that your vision is blurred a little, like looking through a cloudy piece of glass.
These symptoms also can be a sign of other eye problems. If you have any of these symptoms, check with your eye care professional.
Symptoms experienced and how soon they occur, will depend on the type of cataract you have.
Your ophthalmologist will examine and test your eyes to make a cataract diagnosis. Tests include:
Cataract never goes away on its own. It may stop progressing altogether after a certain point or may continue to grow leading to blindness if left untreated. When it forms, surgery is the only way to treat it. In cataract surgery, the surgeon removes the clouded lens and puts an Intra Ocular clear, artificial Lens (IOL) in your eye. This is generally a safe, outpatient procedure. Your vision will be as good as pre-cataract days, though you may need to wear glasses. Over the years the size of corneal incision made during cataract surgery has considerably reduced and also this surgery has moved from vision restorative to refractive surgery, so that you have reduced need of glasses. Best cataract treatment requires the combination of expertise of experienced doctors and latest technology working together. Surgery techniques used are Phacoemulsification and Micro Incision Cataract Surgery. Both are walk-in, walk-out, stitchless, bloodless, painless procedures in which cataract is emulsified and removed using an ultrasonic phacoemulsification probe and foldable IOL is implanted. The only difference is Phacoemulsification requires a small incision of 3.2 mm and in micro-incision cataract surgery, only a very small incision of about 2mm is made, leading to improved visual outcome & quicker healing and post procedure recovery for the patient.
Surgery is usually performed on one eye at a time to minimize potential complications. Cataract surgery is performed in an outpatient surgical center with local/topical anesthesia. Patients are generally released directly after surgery.
Uncomplicated cataract surgery often takes no longer than about 10 minutes to perform. But immediately after the surgery, you will need to rest in a recovery area till you are comfortable. Typically this takes about 30 minutes – 1 hour.
During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed. The artificial lens does not form cataracts. While cataract does not grow back, it is not uncommon several months (or years) after cataract surgery to notice blurry vision similar to what you experienced with the original cataract.
When you decide to have cataract surgery, your doctor will talk to you about IOLs and how they work. New IOLs are being developed all the time to make the surgery less complicated for surgeons and the lenses more helpful to patients.
When you have astigmatism and don’t choose an astigmatism-correcting lens (toric IOL), you’ll still have to wear glasses or contact lenses to see clearly at distance after surgery. If you opt for toric intraocular lens, these will not be required anymore and the vision obtained post surgery will be crisp and sharp.
If you have trouble seeing things at close distance and find yourself frequently fumbling with your reading glasses, it could be presbyopia, a condition caused by a natural hardening of the eye’s lens, and changes of the muscles surrounding the eye that makes it difficult to see things close up. It normally occurs once you cross 40 years of age. If you have presbyopia and choose a standard monofocal replacement lens, you’ll likely still have difficulty reading books or using computers without your glasses after cataract surgery. However, if you and your doctor choose a multifocal lens, your dependency on the glasses is very much decreased as it helps you regain nearly a full range of vision.
If you have trouble seeing things for distance due to astigmatism and also up close and want to ditch your reading glasses, a Toric multifocal lens could be a good option to help you regain a full range of vision.