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An in-depth look at cataract surgery

Surgery is the only way to treat a cataract, which is a clouding of the lens of the eye. While surgery may seem daunting, the rewards far outweigh the anxiety you might feel about having an operation. These are the facts.

What are cataracts?

In a healthy eye, the lens of the eye is clear. However, if this lens becomes cloudy, it will affect eyesight. When a cataract has developed, cataract removal or cataract surgery will be recommended. The operation removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with a clear, artificial lens.

How does a cataract form?

The lens is positioned behind the iris (the coloured part of the eye). It is a light-sensitive structure that focuses the light that enters the eye, producing clear images on the retina. With age, the lens will become less flexible and less transparent, making it difficult for light to pass through. The blurred vision you experience is the result of a thickened lens or cataract.

What are the signs of cataracts?

Some of the cataract symptoms you might experience include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Inability to see in dim light
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Double vision in a single eye
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Fading or yellowing of colours

What does cataract surgery entail?

Cataract surgery is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that usually takes less than half an hour to perform. The surgeon will start by dilating the pupil with eye drops and a local anaesthetic will be administered to numb the area. Thereafter, the cataract is removed and replaced with a clear, artificial lens.

After surgery, you can expect some grittiness and mild discomfort, but eye rubbing should be avoided. Vision might be blurry at first, but after a few days, as the eye heals, clarity of vision will return.

Watch our video for a better understanding of the in-hospital procedure: 

What are the risks of cataract surgery?

The surgeons at Life Peninsula Eye Hospital report that well over 90% of operations are successful in restoring useful vision. There are some factors that could increase the risk for cataract. These include:  

  • Increasing age
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Previous eye injury or inflammation
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol

How can you prevent cataracts from developing?

There are no definitive studies of how to prevent cataracts, however, the following eye-care tips can help or slow the progression. 

  • Schedule regular eye-screening tests. This helps to detect irregularities of the eye and early cataracts.
  • If you haven’t already, quit smoking.
  • Protect your eyes. Wear a good pair of sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays when you’re outdoors.
  • Manage co-morbidities like diabetes and high blood pressure since they can increase your risk.

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a healthcare professional. E&OE. Life Healthcare Group Ltd does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage suffered by the reader as a result of the information provided.