Cataract is a common eye condition where there is gradual opacification or clouding of the eye's lens and the quality of vision progressively deteriorates. Cataracts usually develop slowly and often at different rates in each eye.
Symptoms can include:
blurring of vision, sometimes from peripheral blurring progressing to more central loss, or sometimes a frustrating central loss of definition that widens peripherally,
increased sensitivity to glare
change in the appearance of colours such as yellowing or fading
frequent changes to prescription glasses
Cataract development is principally related to age. Trauma, previous inflammation, previous eye surgery, family history and, in some cases, a lifetime's exposure to UV light can also increase the likelihood of cataract.
To determine if a cataract is present and if treatment is required, your Ophthalmologist will need to conduct a thorough examination of your eyes. It is important to determine whether any other eye conditions are the cause of visual loss, or will affect outcomes of treatment.
It is important to know your full medical history, including the medications you take as some health problems can interfere with surgery, anaesthesia or after care.
Treatment is surgical, involving removal of the opacified natural lens and its replacement by an artificial one, an Intra Ocular Lens (IOL). Most cataract surgery is performed as a day procedure under local anaesthetic, usually accompanied by sedation, with only one eye being treated at a time.
Cataract should be removed when the symptoms of blur, colour desaturation and glare intolerance prevent one from leading a safe, productive visual life.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common and most successful operations today. IOL implantation allows the surgeon to customise the post-op vision.
Complications of cataract surgery do occur and may be severe. The decision to operate is not taken lightly despite the typical success of the procedure.