The cloudy area in the lens of your eyes is known as a cataract. It occurs when protein builds up in the body which further decreases vision and can even lead to loss of sight if kept untreated. This is very common among old age people. Cataracts can be treated or cured through cataract surgery. During the surgery, the clouded lens gets removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens. The artificial lens is known as an intraocular lens which is positioned at the exact position of the natural lens. This further remains as the permanent part of your eye. Cataracts develop with ageing.
Cataract treatment or surgery is the only possible way that can help in treating cataracts but you may not need it right away because if you find out the cause or problem at the initial stage you may be able to get it cured with the prescription of glasses. A heavy or stronger lens can improve your vision. Other than this there are various types of operations that help in treating cataracts but commonly the procedure involves removing the cloudy lens which gets replaced with an artificial lens.
Most of the time people feel uncomfortable opting for a cataract operation as eyes are very sensitive but there is nothing to worry about as this surgery or procedure is very common and during the treatment, you will be given local anaesthetic to numb the eye which will help in soothing the procedure.
Types of Cataract
1. Nuclear sclerotic cataracts
This is a very common kind of cataract. This type of cataract begins with a little or gradual yellowing and hardening of the lens from its central part. The central part of the lens is also called the nucleus. With time this yellowness and hardening will increase and spread to other layers of the eyes.
Since this kind of cataract expands gradually, it changes the ability of your eye to see, focus, and close-up vision. This may improve your vision temporarily such as it will ease reading or any type of closeup work. Mainly this symptom is known as second sight but the vision improvement produced from Nuclear sclerotic cataracts will not be permanent.
Furthermore, gradually the lens of the eyes may turn brown and lead to advanced browning and yellowing which creates difficulty in differentiating between colour shades.
2. Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts
This type of cataract majorly affects the back of the lens. Initially, it begins as a small, opaque area close to the back of the lens which is right in the path of light. This kind of cataract also creates difficulty in reading and can even reduce your vision in bright light. It may also lead to halos or glare when you are around the lights at night. Moreover, Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts grow faster compared to other types of cataracts.
3. Cortical Cataracts
This kind of cataract majorly impacts the edges of the lens. This initially begins as whitish, streaks, or wedge-shaped opacities on the outer area of the lens (Cortex). This type of cataract gradually grows and the streaks extend to the centre part of the lens and further interfere while passing light through the centre of the lens.
4. Congenital cataracts
There are some people who are born with cataracts and among some people, it develops or grows during their childhood. This kind of cataract can be inherited or genetic and may be related to an intrauterine trauma or any infection. These are cataracts that may occur due to various conditions like galactosemia, myotonic dystrophy, and neurofibromatosis type 2 (Rubella). It doesn’t really impact the vision of a person. However, if it does then it needs to be removed soon after detection.
So all these are the types of cataracts that can be cured or treated through cataracts. But before that, it is important to know how these types of cataracts can be treated.
Types of Cataract Treatment
1. Small incision surgery
This treatment is also called phacoemulsification where the doctor makes a tiny or very small cut on the cornea and then puts a very small device in the eye that may give off the ultrasound waves. These waves help in breaking the cloudy lens after this surgeon picks out the pieces and then puts those in the artificial lens.
2. Large incision surgery
This surgery is not commonly used by doctors because they only suggest it in a few cases when treating a large cataract or when it causes more trouble in your eyes. This is also known as extracapsular cataract extraction. If you have undergone this surgery it may take more time to heal.
3. Femtosecond laser surgery
In this surgery the surgeon uses a laser for breaking the lens. This surgery is recommended by doctors when you have astigmatism where your cornea creates problems in your eye or leads to blurry vision.
The procedure of Cataract Treatment
The procedure of cataract treatment depends on the surgical technique used by the surgeon. If a person has a cataract in both eyes then their surgery will be scheduled weeks apart. The most commonly used technique is phacoemulsification.
During this procedure, your eye will be numbed by using local anaesthesia which will be given through injection or sometimes through eye drops. You will be staying awake during the entire surgery but can’t see what your surgeon is doing. In a few cases, you may be given a sedative that helps you to relax during the procedure.
Furthermore, during the surgery, your surgeon will make a small incision or cut to the front of your eye and look into your eye using a microscope. After this surgeon inserted an ultrasonic probe through the small cut for breaking the lens and removing the cataract. Then the broken pieces will be removed.
Then, a foldable lens implant needs to be inserted through the cut and placed in the extract location of your original lens. Majorly there is no need for stitches in this technique. Finally, after the surgery, you will need to rest for about 30 minutes.
Benefits of Cataract Treatment
- 1. Simple recovery
- 2. Quick procedure
- 3. Improved vision
- 4. Improves the quality of life
- 5. Maintain and protects your eye health
Causes of Cataract
Most of the time cataracts develop when injury or ageing changes the tissue that makes the eye lens. Fibres and proteins in the lens of the eye start breaking down and further leading to damage to the vision or sight. This usually causes the eye to become cloudy or hazy.
Another major cause of cataracts is genetic disorders, sometimes the inherited genetic disorder causes health problems and it may also increase the chances of cataracts. Furthermore, the other eye problems or conditions such as past eye surgery and medical conditions like diabetes. The use of steroid medications in the long term can also cause cataracts to grow or develop.
Risks of Cataract Treatment
- 1. Infection
- 2. Bleeding
- 3. Swelling
- 4. Drooping eyelid
- 5. Inflammation
- 6. Retinal detachment
- 7. Loss of vision
- 8. Glaucoma
- 9. Secondary cataract
- 10. Dislocation of artificial lens
All these are the risks of cataract surgery or treatment. The risk of complications is high if the patient with a cataract is facing another issue or serious medical problem. Sometimes cataract surgery fails to cure or improve vision because of eye damage or any other eye-related medical issue like glaucoma or macular degeneration. Possibly, it may be advantageous for evaluating and treating other eye conditions.
Before & After Cataract Treatment
Once the cataract surgery is scheduled, patients must consult with a primary care physician so that they will be aware of the surgery. Most importantly, patients need to give a physical exam after which the doctor will provide written approval for the surgery. This step is very essential as it helps in reducing complications.
Furthermore, after the physical exam, your doctor will prescribe you eye drops that are required to be taken before the surgery, and patients must bring those eye drops to their surgical appointment. Patients who have high blood pressure or heart issues and take medications for this then must take their medications in the morning with small amounts of water on the day of surgery.
However, you must not take any medicines for diabetes such as insulin before or on the day of surgery. You should not eat or drink anything after midnight. All these measures are required to take before the surgery.
After the surgery, patients should rest for a while and must continue to wear sunglasses outside. Sometimes people are initially sensitive toward light once they have undergone the surgery. They are suggested to take eye drops as per the prescriptions of the doctor.
Patients should not avoid wearing an eye patch at least for one week while they sleep as it helps in preventing touching and rubbing their eyes. Moreover, people who have undergone the surgery must avoid driving after the surgery, they can start driving the next day if they feel safe.
Difference between Cataract and Lasik
LASIK eye surgery is also known as refractive surgery which helps in treating myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. On the other hand, Cataract surgery is recommended for patients who are suffering from cataracts (clouding of the eye’s natural lens).
The major goal of LASIK surgery is to reshape the cornea of the eye through laser and cataract surgery aimed at removing the lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial lens which helps in removing the clouding of the eye.
How are Cataracts diagnosed?
For determining whether you have a cataract or not, your doctor will be required to review your medical history and the symptoms you are having. They may also examine your eyes by conducting different tests. Tests conducted by doctors for diagnosing cataracts are the following:
Visual acuity test, where an eye chart measures whether you can read or not or how well you can read a series of letters. During this visual test, you have 20/20 vision or if your signs show any sight or vision impairment then there are chances of you having a cataract.
Retinal exam, for this test your doctor will put drops in your eyes which allow the pupils to open widely (dilate). This way makes it easier to examine the back of the eyes. In this test, your doctor examines your lens through an ophthalmoscope (a slit lamp or a special device) which helps in determining the signs of a cataract.
Slit-Lamp examination, this allows your doctor to examine the front part of your eye under magnification. A slit lamp means a microscope that uses intense light and a slit that further helps in illuminating the cornea, lens, and iris also the space between your cornea and iris. This test helps in detecting abnormalities.
Applanation tonometry, this is an instrument that is used for examining intraocular pressure. This test is used for measuring the fluid pressure in the eyes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best treatment for cataracts?
Phacoemulsification is the most common surgery or treatment that is used by doctors. This is the best treatment for cataracts.
Can you treat a cataract without surgery?
No, surgery is the only effective way for treating cataracts. But you may not need it right away because if you find out the cause or problem at the initial stage you may be able to get it cured with the prescription of glasses.
Can cataracts be cured with eye drops?
No, cataracts can not be treated with eye drops.
What are the 3 types of cataracts?
Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts, Cortical Cataracts, and Congenital cataracts.
What happens if you leave cataracts untreated?
If cataracts are left untreated it may lead to vision loss, eyesight impairment, and even blindness.
How can I prevent my cataracts from getting worse?
You can prevent your cataracts from getting worse by having regular eye exams, reducing alcohol consumption, wearing sunglasses, eating a balanced diet, and many other ways that can help you prevent cataracts.
Is cataract surgery painful?
No, it is not at all painful and even you won’t feel any discomfort.
How long can you have a cataract before you go blind?
It has been found that cataracts can develop in a person’s 40s or 50s, but usually it progresses gradually and does not impair your vision until age 60.
Is Cataract Treatment included in medical insurance?
Yes, cataract surgery is included in health insurance coverage.