A cataract is an opacification of the natural lens that causes blurry, cloudy, or distorted vision. The human lens is located just behind the iris, or the colored part of the eye. The original meaning of “cataract” is “waterfall,” because the visual distortion through a cataract is similar to the view through a waterfall. A normal lens is clear and flexible, allowing us to see focused images. As a part of the aging process, the proteins in the lens oxidize, which leads to clouding and hardening. Eventually a cataract can become so dense that it causes blindness and a white appearance in the pupil. In fact, cataracts are the leading cause of reversible blindness in the world.
Anybody who lives long enough develops cataracts, as they are considered a normal part of the aging process, similar to graying hair and aging skin. There are no known medicines to stop or reverse this change. Certain factors can speed up cataract formation; such has diabetes, steroid use, trauma, smoking, alcohol, and excessive sunlight or radiation exposure. In rare cases, cataracts are present at birth or develop in childhood.
People often believe that a cataract must be in a highly advanced stage to be removed, but this isn’t true. When your ophthalmologist sees signs of a cataract and you start to experience visual symptoms which affect your daily activities, you should ask your surgeon for options. The presence of a cataract ideally, should not infringe on your lifestyle, alter the quality of vision, disturb day to day activities or endanger sight.
If left untreated, the cloudiness in your lens will continue to increase. The rate at which cataracts develop from an immature to a mature one varies from person to person, but eventually your entire lens can become clouded and opaque, causing blindness.
An IOL is an artificial lens that is placed inside the eye when a cataract is removed. It is made from materials like, acrylic, plastic or silicone. IOLs are available in different powers, just like contact lenses. The power is chosen specifically for each eye based on measurements by your doctor. IOL’s are made of safe, durable materials and you can expect that the implant will last your lifetime without need for replacement or maintenance.
When the cataract is surgically removed it must be replaced with an intraocular lens implant (IOL). These replacement lenses, known as intraocular lenses (IOLs), that one receives during cataract surgery can be monofocal lenses, multifocal lenses, trifocal or toric lenses. Your surgeon will make a recommendation based on your ocular measurements, lifestyle and visual needs.
Yes. Your surgeon will offer you medication to help you relax and take steps to make sure you don’t feel any pain.
No. Adults coming in for cataract surgery to our clinic almost always do very well with just topical anesthesia (only drops/ no injection) or in a few situations local anaesthesia.
The surgical procedure typically lasts between 15 and 30 minutes, though it may be three to five hours from when you check in until you leave the hospital.
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