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Cataract

  • What is a Cataract?

    A cataract is clouding of the lens in the eye. The lens is normally clear and allows light to pass through from the front of the eye to the retina at the back of the eye. If the lens becomes cloudy, light cannot pass through and vision becomes blurred. Most cataracts develop slowly and it is only in the later stages when vision becomes cloudy, such that activities like reading and driving can become difficult. Developing cataracts is a natural process of ageing that cannot be avoided or prevented with medicine.

    There are several types of cataract:

    • Cortical cataract is an opaque area on the outer edge of the lens
    • Nuclear cataract is clouding in the centre of the lens
    • Subcapsular cataract is an opaque area at the back of the lens
  • The most common cause of cataract is ageing. As we age, some proteins in the lens may group together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. Over time, the area may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see. Other causes of cataract include:

    • Congenital cataract – a baby may be born with a cataract or develop cataracts during childhood
    • Exposure to some types of radiation, which can form cataracts
    • Secondary cataract:
      1. After surgery for other eye problems, such as glaucoma
      2. In people who have other health problems, such as diabetes
      3. After taking certain medications, such as steroids, for a long period of time
    • Traumatic cataract can develop after an eye injury
  • The first sign of a cataract is usually blurred vision. Other signs may include:

    • Colours appearing dull
    • Difficulty driving at night
    • Difficulty reading or watching television
    • Double vision in one eye only
    • Frequent change of glasses or contact lenses
    • Sensitivity to glare / bright light
    • Halos around lights (rings of light)
    • Poor vision in bright light
  • When your vision becomes impaired, you may need surgery to replace the lens. Not all people with cataracts need surgery. For some, changing their glasses or using a magnifying glass may be sufficient to improve their vision.

    If you do require surgery, cataract surgery is usually done asa  day surgery under local anaesthetic. Latest technology has allowed us to offer bladeless cataract surgery. In this procedure, the cuts are made by a laser instead of a surgical blade, increasing the accuracy of the surgery.

  • Cataract surgery is usually safe and most patients heal well to regain good vision. Infection may sometimes occur and can result in poor vision. Warning signs of infection include:

    • Discharge from the eye
    • Increasing pain and redness of the eye
    • Sudden blurring of vision
    • Swelling of the eye

    Other complications include retinal tear or detachment, and bleeding.

    If you notice any of these signs or complications, you should consult your eye doctor immediately.

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