What is a cataract?
A cataract is the clouding of the natural crystalline lens of the eye. A young lens is clear and free of opacities. With age, the lens begins to opaque and impairs vision by scattering or obstructing the normal passage of light.
Can cataracts be treated?
Early cataracts may simply require a change in your glasses. As the cataract advances, this will not be sufficient and cataract surgery will be required. Cataract surgery is one of the most frequently performed surgeries in Australia. Cataract surgery is a day only procedure, performed under local anaesthesia. The vast majority of cataract surgeries are successful and lead to restoration of normal vision.
What is the impact of cataracts?
Cataract can reduce the vision and cause clouding of your vision. Cataract may cause other symptoms such as reduced night vision, glare in sunlight and a change in colour perception; cataract can also cause halos around lights. Sometimes cataract can change your refraction, that is, it may make your current glasses not to be any good. When cataract is severe, reading becomes difficult. Cataract does not cause pain.
Is surgery the only treatment?
The only treatment for cataract is surgery. Cataracts cannot be reversed and there are no current approved non-surgical treatments for cataracts.
What does cataract surgery involve?
Cataract surgery begins with a small incision of less than 3mm into the cornea. The pupil is dilated with eye drops prior to the surgery. The cataract has a natural covering called a lens capsule and this is then incised to access the cataract. The cataract is cut up into small pieces and then removed by using ultrasound; this is called phacoemulsification.
Because the cataract is your lens, it must be replaced, and this is the lens implant. The lens implants are made of various materials such as acrylic, silicone and PMMA (plastic). These days we favour the lenses with an ultraviolet filter which protects your retina from harmful UV light and provides you with the vision of a 25 year old again! The lens is injected into the eye through the small incision and most of the time no stitch is required.
Can I be free of glasses after cataract surgery?
The procedure and surgical techniques have improved markedly over the years, increasing accuracy of results and better surgical outcomes.
Technology has enabled surgeons to refine surgical techniques during the procedure through the improvements in Intra Ocular Lens (IOL) design and better delivery mechanisms for insertion of IOLs.
Through advancements in instrumentation, customised pre-surgery measurements are performed prior to cataract surgery to increase the accuracy of visual outcomes and tailor the procedure to each individual patient.
Dr Lim and Dr Sumich use swept source optical coherence (OCT) biometry, that has proven track record for repeatability & reproducibility – and is the industry gold standard for ocular biometry.
Measuring the length and curvature of the eye accurately, assists clinicians and surgeons with IOL power calculations to achieve desired visual outcomes. Swept source biometry has been demonstrated to be more effective in measuring eyes with dense cataracts, providing surgeons accuracy in lens power calculations and hence increasing likelihood of more accurate targeted visual outcomes. This is a measurement to work out what power lens to insert into your eye.
Every eye receives a tailored intraocular lens implant. The lens chosen for you should give you very good distance vision and some intermediate vision. Though cataract surgery can be a vision correction procedure, glasses may still be required for some near tasks. Complete independence from glasses is sometimes seen after cataract surgery and more often people can get around mostly without glasses but use of glasses for some activities such as reading is normal and common.
How successful is cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed eye surgery not only in Australia but worldwide.
It has a very high rate of success, but we must all keep in mind that it is an operation with risks such as bleeding, infection and other risks involving the structures within the eye: the cornea, lens, and retina.
Recovery from surgery is rapid with some patients seeing well enough to drive the next day. Complications that can affect the vision occur rarely and this can be discussed in greater detail with your ophthalmologist.
What do I need to do if I have cataracts?
The first step is to visit your local optometrist for review, and they can advise you if you require surgical intervention or if you can wait. Alternatively, please contact us via phone at 02 9635 0663 to speak to one of our cataract consultants.
What can I expect on the day of the procedure?
The cataract surgery is a day procedure. Someone should accompany you to the day surgery as you will have some sedation. The eye is usually patched and so you will not be able to drive yourself home. Paracetamol can be used if there is discomfort, but this is often not necessary, and most people are quite comfortable after cataract surgery.
You are examined the following day after cataract surgery and then a couple of times in the following month. Drops are given to reduce infection risk and to reduce post-cataract surgery inflammation. Glasses are changed about a month after cataract surgery to give you the best result.
The intraocular lens, once inserted, is very stable. Apart from vigorous rubbing, it will not dislodge the intraocular lens from its position. We still advise people to take it easy for the first couple of weeks. The second eye is done separately, and your ophthalmologist will discuss with you when your second eye will be treated.
What can I expect the day after the procedure?
Most people are quite comfortable after cataract surgery.
You are examined the following day and then a couple of times in the following month. Drops are given to reduce infection risk and to reduce post-cataract surgery inflammation.
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