The word “cataract” comes from the Greek word for “waterfall,” as vision with cataracts might resemble looking through a waterfall. A cataract is an opacification of the lens of the eye which leads to a decrease in vision. Cataracts often develop slowly and can affect one or both eyes. Symptoms may include faded colors, blurry or double vision, halos around light, trouble with bright lights, and trouble seeing at night. This may result in trouble driving, reading, recognizing faces or an increased risk of falling.
Cataract is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Cataracts are most commonly due to aging but may also occur due to trauma, be present from birth or occur following eye surgery for other problems. Risk factors include diabetes, longstanding use of corticosteroid medication, smoking tobacco, prolonged exposure to sunlight, and alcohol. Diagnosis is by an eye examination by an eye doctor using an instrument called the slitlamp.
Early on the symptoms may be improved with glasses. If this does not help, surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens is the only effective treatment. Phacoemulsification is a modern cataract surgery method in which the surgeon uses ultrasonic energy to break up the cloudy lens into tiny fragments. The fragments are then suctioned out of the eye. After the lens particles are removed, an intraocular lens implant, commonly referred to as an IOL, is implanted and positioned into the eye through a tiny corneal incision.
Phacoemulsification is typically performed in an outpatient surgery center and normally does not require a hospital stay. The cataract surgery procedure is performed under local anesthesia (an anesthetic injected around the eye) or topical anesthesia (numbing drops instilled into the eye).
There are a lot of myths surrounding cataract and it’s treatment. Let’s clarify them one by one:
Myth 1): You can dissolve cataracts with eye drops
Fact: Cataracts can’t be “dissolved.”
A cataract isn’t a substance that can be dissolved with any type of eye drop. Cataracts are changes to the structure of your lens that occur as you age. The only way to treat cataracts is to remove the defective lens and replace it with a synthetic lens.
Myth 2): You can cure or prevent progression of cataracts with lifestyle changes, yoga, exercise
Fact: Lifestyle changes, yoga, exercise won’t reverse or stop progression of cataracts. Once your lens is clouded, you can’t revive it as it is an age related change.
Myth 3): Only old people develop cataracts
Fact: Some young people have cataracts.
Although cataracts are a disease of aging, you can develop them at a younger age. Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, can cause changes to your eyes that lead to cataracts. Some babies are born with a type of cataract called congenital cataracts. Eye trauma and surgery can also cause cataract.
Myth 4): Cataract surgery should not be done in summers.
Fact: Cataract surgery can be safely done all round the year. The outcome of the surgery doesn’t depend on the weather.
Myth 5): Cataract surgery is dangerous
Fact: Cataract surgery is safe and painless.
Cataract surgery has a 95 percent success rate and is one of the most common and safest surgeries. For a few days after surgery, be sure not to do any heavy lifting or bending. You may notice an immediate improvement after surgery, or a gradual improvement over several weeks.
Myth 6): Cataracts grow back after surgery
Fact: Cataracts can’t grow back.
Once your defective lens has been removed, it can’t grow back. Some people develop cloudy vision again because the membrane that holds the new synthetic lens thickens. However, a 10 minutes, in-office laser procedure quickly, safely and easily resolves that problem.
Myth 7): All cataracts should be removed
Fact: You may not need surgery if you still see well.
If your ophthalmologist finds a cataract during your eye exam, you don’t necessarily need to have surgery. Cataracts develop over many years. As long as you still see well, you can delay surgery.
Myth 8): Cataract surgery should be delayed and done only when it ripens
Fact: Best time to get surgery done is when you start having early visual problems in your day to day life. Once upon a time, cataracts did have to be sufficiently advanced (‘ripe’) before surgery was possible. But modern technology has moved on in leaps and bounds. We can now operate at quite an early stage even before you are truly aware of them – which gives much greater choice over treatment (and often better outcomes).
Myth 9): Cataract surgery is painful and recovery time is long
Fact: It is a painless surgery. Patient is allowed day to day routine activities from next day itself and most people resume work in few days.
Myth 10): Glasses are never required after cataract surgery
Fact: glasses can be required after surgery depending on the intraocular lens chosen. Monofocal intraocular lens work well for distance but you have to wear reading glasses. Multifocal intraocular lens can give freedom or decrease dependence on from both distance and near glasses. For multifocal lens, there is a selection criteria which the doctor needs to decide after examining your eyes.
At iRIS superspeciality eye care centre, we provide cataract surgery with the latest technology ( IOL Master, Constellation phaco machine (Alcon America), Zeiss microscope) and the best lenses by well experienced eye surgeons. We also have a charitable wing where cataract surgery is provided at a reduced cost to the poor and needy.
With the recent advances in cataract surgery(phaco/MICS) and intraocular lenses( multifocal/ toric multifocal ) most people can enjoy glassfree life after cataract surgery.