Cataract is a clouding or opacity of the normally transparent lens inside the eye, thus preventing the light rays from passing into the eye. It is a part of normal ageing process, and hence is seen commonly in patients above 50 years of age. Cataract is managed by surgery which involves removal of the opaque lens, and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). With the advancements in the instrumentation and techniques, Cataract surgery has become a very reliable, safe and successful procedure with minimal discomfort to the patient, and early visual recovery.Click here for Download PDF
What are the symptoms of Cataract?
Cataract usually forms and progresses slowly and therefore leads to a gradual blurring of vision. It may also cause other symptoms like frequent change of glasses, glare, change in colour vision etc.
What is the treatment? Can it be cured by medicines?
There are no medications, eye drops, exercises or glasses that will cause Cataracts to disappear once they have formed. Surgery is the only way to remove a Cataract.
When should one get operated for Cataract?
The timing of Cataract surgery largely depends upon the needs of the patient. When the vision loss due to Cataract is significant enough to hamper one's routine activities, the Cataract may be operated upon. It is not necessary to wait for Cataract to 'ripen' or 'mature'. In fact, a more advanced stage of Cataract is sometimes more difficult to manage by newer techniques like Phacoemulsification.
Which is the Best Surgical Option?
The best procedure for most patients is stitchless Phacoemulsification with a foldable Intraocular lens. However, for some selected patients, an alternative method may be more suitable.
What is Phacoemulsification?
It is a painless procedure using a very small incision. Through this small incision, the tip of the instrument is introduced into the eye. This tip uses localized high frequency waves to break the cataract into very minute fragments and pieces, which are then sucked out in a controlled manner through the same tip. A thin 'capsule' or shell is left behind after cleaning up of the entire opaque cataract. A foldable intraocular lens is then inserted through the same small incision and is supported on this capsule.
What are the advantages of Phacoemulsification over extracapsular (non-phaco) surgery?
In a non-phaco surgery the incision required is larger (10-12 mm) and requires stitches for closing. This larger incision takes 6-8 weeks to heal. Moreover, the stitches can cause distortion of the normal curvature of the cornea (the clear part of eye) and thus lead to astigmatism and blurred vision because of this. In contrast, Phacoemulsification requires smaller wound of only less than 2 mm, which does not require stitches, heals faster with minimum distortion and leads to early visual recovery and return to work.
What anesthesia is used for the surgery?
In most of the patients, the surgery is done under local anesthesia. Most of the times it is performed after putting only anesthetic drops, and without any injection. However, in some cases, especially in anxious patients, local anesthesia in form of injection may be given.
Is admission required for cataract surgery?
It is a short surgery of about 10-15 minutes and the patient can go home after ½-1 hour. So only a short stay is required.
What are the postoperative precautions?
There is no restriction in reading, watching TV, walking or eating any type of food. Most of the patients can resume their office work within a few days after the surgery.You will have to use eye drops for about 4 weeks. It is advisable not to splash water on your open eye or rubbing it for 2 weeks.
Will I need glasses after surgery?
Yes, you may require glasses, which are generally prescribed 4 weeks after the surgery. The power required is generally very small and is different for distance and near vision.
What are the complications of Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is one of the most successful surgeries. Over 90% of patients operated for cataract gain a useful vision. But like any other surgery, problems may develop occasionally in the form of infection, inflammation of the eye, displacement of the natural or artificial lens, swelling in the retina (Cystoid Macular Edema), retinal detachment, etc. Most of these complications can be managed well if they are detected early. Hence a good post-operative follow up must be maintained and in case of any unusual pain, decreased vision or other symptoms, the doctor must be consulted immediately.
In some patients, in the months following surgery, the membrane behind the new lens can get thickened leading to blurred vision. This is referred to as capsular opacity or 'aftercataract', and can be treated easily by laser as an out-patient procedure.
What are the newer developments in Cataract Surgery?
Micro Incision Cataract Surgery (MICS) can perform surgery through very small incision, which heals faster and with minimal distortion.
Zepto Cataract Surgery is the latest technology using a special disposable Probe to make the critical step of capsulorhexis very safe, precise and 100% reproducible and thus decreasing the risks of complications.
There are many choices of Intra Ocular Lenses (IOLs) like Multifocal IOLs, Extended Vision IOLs, Toric IOLs etc. to give you better quality of vision without glasses. The best suited surgery and IOL option for you shall be decided by the surgeon based on your eye condition and visual needs.