A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of the eye. A normal lens is clear. It lets light pass to the back of the eye. A cataract forms in the lens and blocks some of the light. As a cataract develops, it becomes harder for a person to see.
Cataracts are a normal part of aging. About half of Australians aged between, 65 to 74 have some cataract. About 70 percent of those 75 and over have this condition. Factors like sunlight exposure, genetics and medication can influence the condition.
Most people with cataracts have a cataract in both eyes. However, one eye may be worse than the other because each cataract develops at a different rate. Some people with cataract don't even know it. Their cataract may be small, or the changes in their vision may not bother them very much. Other people who have cataracts cannot see well enough to do the things they need or want to do.
Patients experiencing light sensitivity, blurred and or clouded vision, that glasses are unable to fix, and are over the age of 45.
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These symptoms also can be signs of other eye problems.
A change in your glasses, stronger bifocals, or the use of magnifying lenses may temporarily help improve your vision. Usually though surgery is eventually necessary to remove the lens and replace it with an artificial lens implant. This is one of the most common surgeries performed in Australia today.
Just because you have a cataract does not mean it must be removed immediately. Cataract surgery can almost always be put off until you are unhappy with the way you see. If you do have cataracts and do not wish to wear glasses, your surgeon will advise cataract surgery over Laser surgery as it provides the best long term solution for you.
Most people have plenty of time to decide about cataract surgery. Your doctor cannot make your decision for you, but talking with your doctor can help you decide.
Does your cataract affect your vision and your life. Circle the statements below that apply to you
Your Ophthalmologist will choose the best kind of lens replacement for you, to help optimise your vision. The Nurse will also explain how you can prepare for surgery and how to care for your eyes post procedure.
You do not need to stay overnight in a hospital to have cataract surgery. Cataract surgery can be performed at a Day Surgery hospital where you will have your cataract removed. Most typically leave within 2-4 hours post-op. As your eyes need to recover, you will need a friend or family member to take you home. You will also need someone to stay with you overnight due to the sedation used during the procedure.
Thanks to recent developments in Anaesthesia, cataract surgery is a painless experience. People stay awake during their surgeries, although you will be drowsy. Two kinds of Anaesthetic are used:- Monitored local Anaesthetic and regional Anaesthetic and IV sedation.
An Anaesthetist administers IV sedation via a cannula inserted into the back of your hand. Local Anaesthetic eye drops are used to numb the eye. No eye patches are needed, and people usually notice improved vision immediately after surgery.
Phaco-emulsification (pronounced FAY-co-ee-mul-sih-fih-CAY-shun) is the technique used to remove your natural lens. The lens technique is used to remove your natural lens. The lens is gently softened by ultrasound and then irrigated and aspirated out of your eye in approximately 2 minutes. During this time you just see colourful light. No discomfort is experienced.
The natural lens has a “capsular bag” which remains in the eye and is where your new artificial lens is held in place. Once this has been done antibiotics are introduced to the eye to reduce the risk of infection. There is no need for stitches as the wounds heal naturally.
A cataract cannot return because the lens has been removed. However, in about 10% of all people who have phaco-emulsification, the capsular bag later becomes cloudy. This cloudiness of the capsular bag, if it occurs, usually develops 3 months or more after surgery. It causes the same vision problems as a cataract. The treatment for this condition is a procedure called a YAG Capsulotomy. The doctor uses a laser (light) beam to make a tiny hole in the capsule to let light pass. This procedure is painless and is done very easily in our rooms during a consultation.
Most people who have a cataract recover from surgery with no problems and improved vision. In fact, serious complications are not common with modern cataract surgery. This type of surgery has a success rate of 98 percent in patients with otherwise healthy eyes. But no surgery is risk free. Although serious complications are not common, when they occur they could result in loss of vision.
If you have a cataract in both eyes, it is best to wait for a minimum of 1 week before having surgery on the second eye. If the eye that has a cataract is your only good eye, your doctor will weigh very carefully the benefits and risks of cataract surgery.
You will be able to make the right decision for yourself if you know the facts. Ask your doctor to explain anything you do not understand. There is no such thing as a "silly" question when it comes to your health.
Our doctors use phacoemulsification, an advanced technique that allows the cataract to be removed through a tiny, secure opening 2 mm long. The lens is removed by a small ultrasonic probe, inserted through the incision. They also use intraocular lenses which can be folded to fit through the same small incision. The lens then unfolds during insertion within the eye. Once the lens is inside the eye it stays in position permanently.
This type of surgery means your recovery period is dramatically shortened and your eye recovers much earlier than previously. Normal activities such as driving, walking and sports can usually be resumed the next day. Before surgery the eye is precisely measured so an individual lens implant can be chosen for you. The latest technology is used to determine the implant strength needed to give you the best possible vision.
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