An opacified lens in the eye is a cataract. The eye is similar to a camera, light rays are focused by the lens onto the retina in order to form a sharp image. When a lens becomes opacified, the image formed will be blurred. The commonest cause of cataract is aging; other causes include diabetes, trauma, inflammation and congenital.
Most patients with cataracts will notice gradual blurring of vision. Others symptoms include glare under bright light, double vision in one eye, frequent change of glasses prescriptions, reduced dependence on reading glasses. The eye is not painful nor red unless in advanced cases with complications.
While some medications may slow down cataract development, in order to prevent cataract formation one should avoid strong ultra-violet light exposure by the use of sunglasses.
Surgery is the only treatment for cataract, and over 95% of patients can restore their vision after surgery. After the removal of cataract, an individualised intraocular lens implant will be fitted in place for best visual outcome. Usually this microscopic surgery is performed under local anesthesia and lasts less than 30 minutes. There is no need to stay in the hospital after surgery. Most cataract are removed by ultrasound phacoemulsification. This minimally invasive approach ensures faster recovery due to a small wound size.
No, this approach is outdated. As the outcome for cataract surgery is excellent nowadays, the timing is based on visual needs. When eyesight has effected the activities of daily living, then cataract surgery should be considered.
Some patients experience visual deterioration a few years after cataract surgery. When a cataract was removed, its transparent capsule was left intact in order to support the intraocular lens implant. In some cases, the capsule may become opacified or scarred with time and vision is then affected. The opacified capsule can be treated with a simple laser procedure call Nd:Yag capsulotomy, after which lights rays can again be focused sharply on the retina forming a clear image.