What is Cataract?
Cataract is the clouding of the lens present in your eye
How do I know if I have Cataract?
Well, in the initial stages there is minimal blurring of vision. Most patients, start having difficulty in crossing the road, the headlights of the oncoming vehicle begins to glare. Many feel that they are seeing through a foggy window. As, the Cataract progresses, the blurring of vision becomes more and more prominent.
Am I going to go blind?
Absolutely not, Cataract causes a temporary drop in vision. It is easily correctable by Cataract surgery and nearly all patients recover their full visual potential.
Is surgery the only option? Can it not be cured by medicine?
Though, there are many alternative Cataract treatment gurus professing that Cataract can be cured with medicine, there is no concrete proof of it. Surgery remains the only option in treatment of cataract.
So, is the Cataract surgery done by laser?
There are various techniques of doing the surgery. The two well established ones are ‘Phacoemulsification’ which is commonly called ‘Laser’ and the Manual Small Incision technique. Also cataract laser treatment and cataract surgery cost is very reasonable.
Which of the above two techniques is better?
‘Phacoemulsification’ technique involves the use of a machine which is like a drilling machine. It literally emulsifies the Cataract and removes it from the eye through a small incision (generally, 3mm). So, the major benefit of this type of technique is the chance of having a smaller number following the surgery. Also, the risk of infection is slightly lesser. The drawback is that it needs a learning curve and can be potentially dangerous in the hands of a surgeon who is not well trained in it.
“Manual small incision’ technique involves removing the lens through a larger incision (5.5 – 6 mm). So, post operative number may be high and risk of infection may be slightly more. However, it is the best option in certain situations like ‘a very hard cataract’ or ‘mature cataract’. Also, as it is cheaper and does not require the use of a specialized machine, most eye surgeons in our country are reasonably well trained in this technique.
So, in short, the choice of technique should be left to the surgeon. It depends mainly on the grade of Cataract and also the surgeon’s experience with the technique.
Will an artificial lens be put in my eye? What is the best option?
Yes, an artificial lens will be put in the eye during the surgery. There are two main categories of lens: Foldable and Non foldable. Non foldable lens is made of PMMA. While, foldable lens is made either Acrylic or Silicon.
In foldable lens, there are two types Monofocal and Multifocal lens.
The choice of lens depends on the nature of your work and also how much money you can spend on the surgery.
For a young patient, who is likely to work on the computer, Multifocal lens is a good choice provided the other eye also has Cataract and will be undergoing surgery soon. The major advantage with Multifocal lens is that the dependability on glasses is reduced. Most patients are able to manage without glasses. However, there can be issues with glare and halos.
In Monofocal lens, Acrylic Hydrophobic Aspheric lens is probably the best. However, when a monofocal lens is put in the eye, vision can be corrected only for one distance, either for near or for distance.
Is the surgery safe?
Cataract surgery is relatively a well established procedure and is safe provided it is done by a well trained surgeon at a good centre.
There can be complications during the surgery like the natural lens may go behind or very rarely a catastrophic type of bleeding called ‘Hemorrhagic choroidal detachment’ can take place. Post surgery, vision may not improve at times. There can be various reasons like Endophthalmitis,. Corneal edema, Astigmatism and Glaucoma.
However, it is important to stress that these are complications are extremely rare and the incidence for most complications is as less as 1 in 1000.
Can my vision be saved if I develop a complication during surgery?
Vision can be salvaged to a large extent provided adequate steps are taken in most of the cases. However, the visual prognosis varies from case to case and depends on many factors unique to that case.
What are the precautions to be taken following the surgery?
There are certain precautions to be taken following the surgery
Follow the doctor’s instructions as far as the medicines are concerned.
Avoid head bath for at least 10 days
Avoid rubbing, squeezing your eyes
Avoid putting water into your eyes
Avoid using soiled hand kerchief or any cloth around the eyes
Avoid areas where there is dust
Use dark glasses outside the house for at least 10 days.
Is there a special diet to be followed following the surgery?
No, there is no special diet to be followed after Cataract surgery. Diet has to be healthy and modified according to your overall health. So, if you are Diabetic, you need to avoid sugars, oily food etc.
Can I watch TV? Can I go for walks? How soon can I resume my work?
Well, you certainly can watch TV and go for your walks. There is no hard or fast rule regarding when you can resume duty. However, at least 10 days rest is advisable.
How often do I need to visit the doctor following the surgery?
On and average, most Cataract doctors will see you on the first post-operative day, 1 week and 1 month. Generally, refraction is done at 1 month and glasses are prescribed if required.