Cataract PDF Print E-mail


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Cataracts are cloudy patches in the lens of the eye that can make your vision blurry and may eventually lead to blindness if it is left untreated. Cataracts can develop in one or both eyes, and over time the size of cataract can get bigger until the whole lens is covered. The only way to restore vision is by having the cataract removed by surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the most common and quickest surgeries performed, and many people are able to return to their usual daily routine after 24 hours. Cataract surgery can now be performed from an early stage to prevent further eye conditions developing, such as macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.


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Procedure: If you have cataracts in both eyes, they will be operated on at separate occasions so the first eye has time to heal and to allow your vision to return. The majority of cataract operations are performed with keyhole surgery and are usually performed as day surgery, meaning you can go home afterwards. You will need someone to look after you for the first 24 hours.


During this assessment, measurements of your eye will be taken, to prepare for the artificial lens that will replace your natural lens. An appointment will be made for your operation to take place in a eparate visit. Since cataract surgery is so common these days, these operations can often be completed with 45 minutes.


Phacoemulsification usually takes between 15-30 minutes.


Phacoemulsification is the most common cataract procedure.


Phacoemulsification Procedure: The surgeon puts drops into your eye to dilate (widen) your pupil. You will also be given a local anaesthetic, which can be applied as drops. Sometimes injections in the tissue around the eye may also be used. The surgeon then makes a tiny cut (incision) on the front surface of the eye (the cornea). A small probe is inserted into the cornea which releases ultrasounds that help to break up the cataracts into tiny pieces.


The ultrasound probe is removed and a new probe is inserted which sucks out the cataracts. Once the entire cataract has gone, the surgeon inserts a small plastic lens through the incision in the cornea. The lens sits in the lens capsule, behind the pupil. The replacement lens is folded in half when it is inserted so it can fit through the incision in the cornea. When it is in place, it unfolds itself and adopts the natural position of the old lens.

The Replacement Lens: There are three types of replacement lens available. Your surgeon will help you decide which one will be the best for you. The types of lens are:

* Fixed strength lenses (monofocal) - set for one level of vision, usually distance vision

* Multifocal lenses - allow two or more different strengths, such as near and distance vision

* Accommodating lenses - allow the eye to focus on both near and distant objects, in a similar way to the natural human lens.

After the Operation: You will usually have a pad or dressing over your eye after surgery. This helps avoid any infection and will keep your eye rested. Occasionally an eye shield will need to be worn. It will take 1-2 months in total for your vision to settle. It is not unusual for the eye to be slightly inflamed, itchy, sticky, reddened, or occasionally bruised. The incision made in Phacoemulsification is usually so small that it does not need stitches and it will heal on its own. It is important to note that after your operation you will probably still need to wear your glasses to see things that are far away (distance vision), or close to you (near vision). Your eye prescription will probably change, but you will have to wait several weeks before having your eyes tested. The optician will then be able to give you a new prescription, if necessary.


Results: In the majority of cases, vision is noticeably improved upon straightaway. It is important to remember that your vision will be improved to the level it was at before the cataract developed, not to 20/20 vision. Cataract surgery does not restore vision; it simply removes the cataract that blocks vision. Your surgeon will tell you when you can start driving again. You should also arrange for someone to take care of you for the first 24 hours after surgery. You will also be prescribed steroidal eye drops to help reduce inflammation, and antibiotic eye drops or cream to prevent infections. To make your recovery easier, it is a good idea to light each room so you can see clearly. Other advice for recovering from cataract surgery suggests that you should:

* avoid strenuous exercise as it may increase eye pressure

* avoid getting soap or shampoo in your eye

* avoid lifting anything heavy

* wear sunglasses if it is sunny as your eyes may be extra sensitive to bright light, or if it is windy to avoid any debris getting in the eye.


Risks of Cataract Surgery: Cataract surgery is very common and the risks are very low. However, no surgery is risk-free. The most common risk is developing a condition called posterior capsule opacification. This is caused when a part of the lens capsule thickens and becomes cloudy. This condition can be treated, usually with laser surgery. Other complications in the eye after cataract surgery can include:

* infection

* bleeding

* inflammation

* rupture of the back of the lens capsule

* damage to other parts of the eye, such as the cornea.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 26 August 2009 )