What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye, causing your vision to be blurry, dim and unclear. Cataracts develop slowly and you may not be aware of this until symptoms become noticeable. If the impaired vision affects your daily activities, cataract surgery is an effective procedure to treat your vision issues.
When should I see a specialist for cataract surgery?
Make an appointment to see an ophthalmologist if you notice any changes in your vision such as
· cloudy or blurred vision
· colours appearing faded or yellow
· requiring more light to read or undertake activities
· sensitivity to glare
· seeing “halos” around lights
· double vision in one eye
Did you know?
A study done in Singapore showed that Asians have a higher prevalence and earlier age of onset of cataract than Europeans. Malays have a higher prevalence and greater severity of the different types of cataracts compared to the Chinese1.
What are the risks of cataract surgery?
The risk of developing serious complications is very low.
The main problem after the surgery is posterior capsule opacification (PCO). This occurs when the “pocket” in which the lens sits in, thickens causing cloudy vision. This condition occurs within two years of the surgery, in less than 10% of people who have cataract surgery. Laser eye surgery is used to correct this issue.
Other rare complications that could occur include
· retention of part of the cataract
· bleeding within the eye
· injury to other parts of the eye such as the cornea
· swelling and redness within the eye
· retinal detachment –where the retina (the layer of nerve cells inside the back of the eye) separates from the wall of the eye
How should I prepare for my appointment?
The ophthalmologist will discuss your personal and family medical history with you. Your specialist is likely to ask questions regarding your vision problems, how these symptoms affect your daily activities, if you have been diagnosed with any eye problems, or have had any eye injury or surgery.
The following information should be prepared for the appointment:
· Your symptoms and how long you have had these symptoms
· All medication currently being consumed including dosage, vitamins, and other supplements
Your doctor may conduct several tests to confirm the diagnosis, including:
· Visual acuity test which highlights any signs of impairment by measuring how well you can read a series of letters.
· Slit-lamp examination to allow your specialist to detect any abnormalities in the structures at the front of eye
· Retinal exam (which requires your eyes to be dilated using eye drops) to examine the back of the eye using either a slit lamp or an instrument called the ophthalmoscope
What can I expect during cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery involves replacing the clouded lens with a clear artificial lens (called an intraocular lens), in the same place as your natural lens, becoming a permanent part of your eye.
The surgery is generally done on an outpatient day surgery basis. You will be awake during the process. Your ophthalmologist will use a local anaesthetic to numb the area around your eye.
There will be some discomfort during the next few days after the surgery.
What happens after my cataract surgery?
Your vision should not deteriorate after cataract surgery unless other problems arise, such as macular degeneration or glaucoma.Request an appointment with an ophthalmologist today.
1. Chua J, Koh JY, Tan AG, et al. Ancestry, Socioeconomic Status, and Age-Related Cataract in Asians. Ophthalmology. 2015;122(11):2169-2178. doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2015.06.052.