Some facts about cataract
- Cataract is clouding of the natural lens of the eye. The eye has a natural lens very like a camera to focus the light. When the clouding interferes with vision it can be replaced at an operation with an artificial lens placed where the natural lens used to be (called an intra-ocular lens). This is different to a contact lens. It is inside the eye and is permanently placed without any need for ongoing care to maintain clear vision.
- Cataract is often present in both eyes
- It is usually associated with age but may also be brought on by injury or long-term inflammation in the eye. It is more common amongst diabetics and can be associated with long-term use of some drugs, most commonly prednisolone (a steroid).
What we can do about it
The only treatment for cataract is surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens inside the eye where the natural lens used to be. These lenses come in many different designs and may have some special features to improve outcome of the surgery
Astigmatism correcting intra-ocular lenses
Astigmatism is where the surfaces that focus the light in the eye are oval instead of spherical. This blurs vision and can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. It can also be corrected by newer versions of the artificial lens inserted in the eye after cataract removal.
Intra-ocular lenses for near vision (or presbyopia-correction)
Near vision fails in all eyes as we age. In our 40’s it becomes noticeable to a point where reading glasses may be necessary. Some short-sighted people can overcome the problem by taking off their short-sighted glasses rather than putting on reading glasses. At the time of cataract surgery, in suitable candidates, it is possible to use modern intra-ocular lenses that can correct for this problem. Your eye surgeon can discuss your suitability.
Micro-incision cataract surgery
The cloudy natural lens can be removed and replaced through very small incisions. At AAEC it is possible to have this done through incisions as small as 1.8 mm. This is particularly useful in eyes that need astigmatism-correcting intra-ocular lenses.