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Cataract is caused by clouding in the natural lens of human eyes. In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens inside eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens (called an intraocular lens, or IOL) to restore clear vision. A cataract can occur in either or both eyes.
Risk factors for Cataract
- Advancing age
- High blood pressure
- Smoking and alcohol habit
- Previous eye injuries
- Family history of cataracts
- Overexposure to sun
- Exposure to radiation from X-rays and cancer treatments
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
- Congenital cataract when baby born with clouding of lens
Signs and symptoms of Cataract
Cataract begins slowly and initially has a very little effect on the vision. Cataract generally does not cause discomfort or pain in the eye or change the external appearance of the eye. Usually noticed:
- Reduced visual clarity
- Colors appear faded
- Sensitivity to light, glare
- Frequent changes to eyeglass prescriptions
- Blurry or cloudy vision.
- Vision affected by small spots or patches
- Difficulty in reading
Diagnosis and tests
Patient history & clinical examination is performed looking for signs, symptoms and any associated risk factors. Eye tests done are:
- Visual acuity test: It is done to examine how clearly and accurately a person can see.
- Retinal examination: The eye is dilated to have a bigger view of it.
- Slit lamp examination: It is a method to see the eyes through an illuminated slit light.
Treatment of Cataract
Early stage cataract
Conservative treatment when symptoms start to appear, improvement may be seen by using new glasses, strong bifocals, magnification, appropriate lighting or other visual aids.
Advance stage cataract
Surgical treatment is done when the cataract is at an advanced stage.
- The procedure takes about 30 minutes.
- Before the procedure, the pupil dilated.
- During the procedure, the patient will not know what is happening.
- A surgeon makes a tiny cut in the eye, after that the surgeon inserts a minute probe in the cut. This probe gives out ultrasound waves that breaks up the cloudy lens into small pieces, which are then gently removed from the eye with suction.This procedure called phacoemulsification or "phaco,"
- The remnants of the cloudy lens are removed from eye
- The cataract surgeon then inserts a clear intraocular lens.
- The incision in the eye is closed
- The eye is usually patched and use of an eye shield at night is recommended for several days after surgery.
- There is immediate improvement in the vision.
- Eye drops given to reduce inflammation and prevent infection.
- Vigorous activity should be avoided.
- Advised to go for a follow-up eye check –up after a few days.
Complications of Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery quite safe, but complications can occur with any surgical procedure, complications are usually rare and can be treated, these include:
- Loss of a portion of the cataract into the eye
- Displacement of the intraocular lens
- Retinal detachment
- Blindness is a rare complication of cataract surgery