May 29, 2017 213
GetDoc: What is cataract, where does it occur?
Vista Eye Specialist: Cataract is one of the most common eye conditions affecting people in old age. It is generally an age related condition. However, cataract may also occur due to congenital case; secondary medical conditions such as diabetes and trauma to the eyes are also responsible for its occurrence. In cataract, the lens inside the eye becomes clouded due to a build-up of protein. These clouded spots on the lens prevent light from passing through it and causes a loss of vision.
GetDoc: Who is more susceptible to get cataract - any specific race/sex/group of people?
Vista Eye Specialist: Cataract generally affects the older generation. Typically there is a 50% chance of developing cataract in people from the age of 60 onwards. By 80 years old, there is a 95% probability.
GetDoc: What is the treatment recommended for cataract?
Vista Eye Specialist: Symptoms for early cataract can be improved by using new glasses or magnifying glasses, better lighting, and wearing anti-glare sunglasses.
When the symptoms progress beyond these steps, a simple surgery using a procedure called phacoemulsification removes the current lens in the eye and replaces it with an intraocular lens.
GetDoc: Can a person avoid surgery?
Vista Eye Specialist: At this time — and for the foreseeable future — surgery is the only viable treatment for cataract. Though some evidence suggests a healthy diet may help prevent cataracts, making healthful dietary or lifestyle changes will not reverse cataracts once they are present. In some cases, a change of your eyeglass prescription will improve your vision if your cataract is worsening; other times it will not
GetDoc: Is there any way to prevent cataract?
Vista Eye Specialist: There is no definitive way to prevent cataracts, but doctors have recommended certain steps which may decrease the risk of developing cataracts. These include quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake, managing other health issues well such as diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight and diet and wearing sunglasses outdoors which block ultraviolet B rays.
GetDoc: What are the complications that can arise if someone delays cataract surgery?
Vista Eye Specialist: When a patient delays treatment, the lens becomes harder and this poses extra risks during the normally safe surgery. If it remains untreated, it may lead to blindness and other eye problems such as secondary glaucoma which may also cause blindness.
GetDoc: Can we detect cataract early? How often must we get our eyes checked? Is it a complex procedure?
Vista Eye Specialist: Regular eye check with your doctors can help detect early signs of any eye condition. This will be more crucial as you grow into your golden years. Your doctor will be able to recommend suitable treatment as early as possible to maintain the health of your eyes
GetDoc: What are the benefits of cataract surgery?
Vista Eye Specialist: In addition to restoring vision that has been lost due to cataract, cataract surgery can correct short-sightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism with the intraocular lens (IOL) that is implanted in the eye after the cataract is removed.6 This means that in addition to restoring clear vision, modern cataract surgery can also reduce your need for eyeglasses or contact lenses after the procedure.
There even are multifocal IOLs and accommodating IOLs that can be used during cataract surgery to treat the normal age-related loss of near vision called presbyopia and thereby reducing your need for reading glasses.
GetDoc: Is it a painful surgery?
Vista Eye Specialist: There is little or no discomfort during cataract surgery. You will be awake during the procedure, but steps are taken before and during surgery so you won't feel any pain.
GetDoc: What is the recovery time? What are the precautions one needs to take before/after surgery?
Vista Eye Specialist: An uncomplicated cataract surgery often takes about 15 minutes to perform. Don't be alarmed if your vision seems cloudy, blurry or distorted. It can take some time for visual system to adjust to the removal of the cataract and adapt to the intraocular lens used to replace natural lens.
Many patients report clear vision within several hours after cataract surgery. But each person heals differently, and you may need as long as a week or two before you see images in their sharpest focus.
Antibiotic eye drops will be prescribed to prevent infection and anti-inflammatory eye drops to help reduce any internal inflammation. You'll need to apply the eye drops several times daily for about the first few weeks to a month during your cataract surgery recovery. Make sure you use these eye drops exactly as prescribed.
Other tips for a speedy recovery:
- Don't do any heavy lifting or strenuous activity for a month.
- Immediately after the procedure, avoid bending over, to prevent putting extra pressure on your eye.
- To reduce risk of infection, avoid swimming or water sports for 1st month
- Don't expose your eye to irritants such as grime, dust and wind during the first weeks after surgery.
- Don't rub your eye, which is a good idea even when you aren't recovering from surgery.
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by Hridya Anand
A biochemist by education who could never put what she studied to good use, finally found GetDoc as a medium to do what she loved - bring information to people using a forum that is dedicated to all things medical. View all articles by Hridya Anand.