If you have concerns about a cataract for yourself or for a loved one, please don’t be. They’re fairly common eye condition. Most of us develop cataracts gradually over time and they’re very much age related. However, some can happen earlier in life or even at birth. Some cataracts are associated with drugs or with diabetes or long-term use of steroids.
The good news is that cataracts are a very much treatable condition and most people who have cataract surgery are extremely pleased and you’ll find that they are the one of the most satisfactory treatments to have done. So what happens when we develop cataracts? We may develop symptoms such as blurring or haziness of our vision, difficulty in bright light, suffering glare especially when we’re looking at sunlight or oncoming headlights. Some of us even have difficulty with reading, but in others they may find that reading is easier and this is when the natural lens becomes harder it and becomes more nuclear sclerotic.
The decision to have cataract surgery is entirely subjective. We decide to have surgery when it starts to affect our daily activities whether it be playing golf, reading, driving or enjoying all those little things that really matter to us. What I want you to do is try and maintain your independence and have an excellent quality of life. In most cases, we wait until the cataract starts to affect those little things.
However, in some cases where it may have an impact on our eye health, we want to may operate that little bit sooner: such as those who have glaucoma, and in fact, removing a cataract may lower the eye pressure. At consultation, we’ll undergo a full discussion both of your eye health and your medical health. We’ll do a number of tests to determine if you have developed any signs of what we call glaucoma damage. If we find that you’re at risk of developing glaucoma or have developed problems associated with glaucoma such as loss of sight or visual field defects, we’ll decide on a treatment course tailored specifically for you.
Now, this treatment may be in the form of eye drops which most of our patients take without any trouble at all. If these drops are not effective or not tolerable for you, we may be able to treat your glaucoma with selective laser trabeculoplasty or what we call minimally invasive glaucoma surgery. You’ll be pleased to know that cataract surgery is day surgery. You don’t have to stay overnight. We’ll numb the eyes with very strong drops. We’ll then remove the natural lens through a small hole using what we call ultrasound.
Through that very small hole, we’ll put a foldable lens in place. You’ll be acrylic and it’ll give you back that clear distance vision that you’ve always wanted to enjoy. Sometimes patients ask me, “Does my cataract come back?” In short, the answer is no, absolutely not. However, the clear membrane that we use to put the new acrylic lens into may become cloudy over time and this may happen anything between three months and 10 years after surgery. If this occurs, we can clear your vision again using a straightforward simple procedure within the clinic setting called a YAG laser capsulotomy.