What is A Cataract Surgery?
A cataract is the clouding of the crystalline lens in the eye that may cause the blurring of vision. Learn more about cataracts here.
A cataract surgery is a 2-step process:
The first step is to remove the cloudy lens using ultrasound
The second step is to insert an intraocular lens (IOL), an artificial lens, to replace the natural lens.
Cataract removal is one of the safest and most effective surgical procedures. Through the insertion of the IOL, cataract surgery can also treat myopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia.
Currently, there are no alternative treatments that can cause a cataract to disappear once it has formed. It is important to note that neither diet nor lasers can make a cataract go away.
Am I a suitable candidate for a Cataract surgery?
People with systemic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart diseases are usually suitable to undergo a cataract surgery. It is important to inform the surgeon of the medications that the patient is taking as certain medications may affect the surgery.
For people who have undergone previous eye surgeries such as LASIK, retinal detachment, glaucoma treatments and eyelid surgeries are also usually suitable to undergo a cataract surgery. The patient should inform the doctor of all pre-existing eye conditions during the initial consultation session.
What are the Possible Side Effects and Complications?
Cataract surgeries can potentially be 95-99% uncomplicated under the hands of a competent and experienced surgeon. Some rare occurrences of complications are cystoid macular oedema, bleeding at the back of the eye, posterior capsule rupture, endophthalmitis, retinal detachment and glaucoma. For eyes with pre-existing diseases which have caused irreversible damage to the vision, a cataract surgery may remove the cloudy natural lens but will not restore vision to 6/6. Some examples of these eye problems are macular degeneration, retinal hole, glaucoma, corneal scarring and ambylopia. About 30% of patients may develop a posterior capsular opacity (PCO) after a cataract surgery which may appear as soon as after 1 month or after many years. This is also sometimes called a secondary cataract. It is important to note that a cataract does not grow again after an initial cataract surgery. PCO causes hazy vision with occasional glare effects. It occurs due to protein deposition on the posterior surface of the capsular bag which contains the intraocular lens. This deposition reduces clarity of vision and can be easily removed with a YAG-laser capsulotomy. This laser needs to be applied for only one session and is rather quick and painless. Some cataract patients enjoy clear vision for many years without encountering a PCO.
Types of Cataract Treatments
The older methods of cataract removal are extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE) and intracapsular cataract extraction (ICCE). More recently, phacoemulsification with intraocular lens implantation has become a popular choice for surgeons due to faster healing and less incidences of complications. The corneal incision can be made as small as 2.2-1.8mm which will heal without any stitching.