Eye Surgeons Miranda

Cataract

A cataract is a clouding of your eye's natural lens, which lies behind the iris and pupil. Consisting mostly of water and protein, this lens adjusts your eye's focus, allowing you to see things both up close and at a distance. As you age, the protein that keeps the lens clear may clump together and start to cloud a small part of the lens. In time it can grow larger, obstructing more and more light and making it harder and harder to see. Cataracts typically progress slowly but if left untreated they can lead to blindness. Cataracts may be stationary or progressive, hard or soft. Although the condition will generally affect both your eyes, one will almost always develop clouding before the other.

Prevalence of Cataract

Prevalence - World Health Organization research tells us that age-related cataract is responsible for 48 percent of world blindness, which represents about 18 million people. As populations age, the number of people with cataracts will continue to grow. At the moment, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness among adults age 55 and older. But it could be getting worse. At the same time depletion of the ozone layer is increasing ultraviolet radiation, it is also expected to increase the incidence of cataracts.

Cataract Susceptibility

Those most at risk - There are three different types of cataract, and they develop for a variety of reasons. The most common form is nuclear cataract which forms in the centre of the lens, and while this type of cataract is certainly age-related, no one knows for sure what actually causes it. Among possible causal factors are long-term exposure to ultraviolet light, exposure to radiation, iodine deficiency, trauma (possibly much earlier) and secondary effects of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Genetic factors, too, are often a cause of congenital cataracts, particularly among younger sufferers. Children with allergies also have shown susceptibility to pre-senile cataracts. As well, drugs such as corticosteroids and Largactil can induce cataract development.

Cataract Warning Signs

Warning signs - In the beginning of its development, a cataract has little effect on your vision, other than some possible minor blurring. Something like looking through a cloudy piece of glass. But as a cataract becomes more opaque, different aspects of your sight are compromised. You see things less sharply. Contrast sensitivity is also lost, so that contours, shadows and color vision are less vivid. Veiling glare can be a problem as light is scattered by the cataract into the eye. The affected eye will have an absent red reflex. If you experience these symptoms, you should have a contrast sensitivity test. If it demonstrates a loss in contrast sensitivity, a referral to an eye specialist such as us is recommended. In high-risk groups such as diabetics, it may be advisable to seek medical opinion if a halo is observed around street lights at night, especially if this phenomenon appears to be confined to just one eye.

Cataract Prevention

Preventative measures - Although cataracts have no scientifically proven prevention, it is sometimes said that wearing ultraviolet-protecting sunglasses may slow the development of cataracts. Regular intake of antioxidants (such as vitamins A, C and E) is theoretically helpful, but taking them as a supplement has been shown to have no benefit. Once developed, the cataract won't go away by itself, and your vision will likely get slowly worse. Cataract surgery is then the only effective option to restore your vision.

Cataract Treatment

Treatment - When a cataract is sufficiently developed to be removed by surgery, the most modern treatment in Australia is phacoemulsification, a ‘key-hole’ procedure performed under an microscope in the operating theatre. When we prepare for your surgery in the practice, we use our IOLMaster to precisely measure your eyes so that we can accurately choose the most appropriate lens implant and predict your need - or lack of need - to wear glasses following surgery. Recent improvements in lens technology give you more choice than ever before. Now you can have intraocular monofocals, torics, multifocals or accommodating lenses. All you have to do is tell us your priorities regarding your work and lifestyle, and your surgeon will help you determine the best option for you. For instance, if driving is a job requirement, a monofocal lens will give you the clearest driving vision. If minimising any dependence on glasses is your priority, a multifocal lens may be right for you.

Once we formulate an individual surgical plan for each eye, we'll set dates for both surgical procedures at President Private Hospital. In each instance we surgically remove the cataract, then insert your specific lens into the eye. And that's it. We usually perform these operations using a local anaesthetic, so you go home the same day.

Cataract Prognosis

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Prognosis - Some cataracts stop progressing after a certain point. Cataracts are never reversible, however, even after eliminating factors (such as drugs or illnesses) that might have promoted their development. If extensive and progressive cataracts are left untreated, they can cause blindness. Fortunately, cataracts nearly always can be successfully removed with surgery. Reduced vision ranks third only behind arthritis and heart disease as a cause of impaired function in older people. Some people who have small cataracts can see well enough around the clouded areas to live normally. Extensive cataracts, however, can compromise the ability to earn a living, read, drive or live independently.