To understand cataract, one has to visualize that an eye behaves like a camera with a transparent lens focusing light on the reel of the eye i.e. retina. The picture so formed on the retina is then sent to the brain via a nerve to complete the process of seeing. When this lens starts becoming opaque or white, the problem is labelled cataract. The condition happens when certain proteins in the lens form into abnormal clumps. These clumps gradually enlarge and interfere with vision by distorting or blocking the passage of light through the lens.
So when the lens is partially opaque, it is called an immature cataract and some light can pass through to help perform some routine functions. However, when the opacity increases to engulf the entire lens, vision is totally cut off and the cataract is called mature.
Cataract Surgery :
There is a painless gradual decrease in vision. Early cataract is associated with difficulty in reading in normal light conditions, and extra illumination is required. Excessive glare and reduced sharpness can make night driving difficult. Some experience rapid changes in the number/power of glasses. In advanced cases there is the complete loss of sight and lens becomes pearly white in colour.
If you experience any of the following issues, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor immediately:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Double vision (diplopia)
- Fading of colours
- Seeing halos around lights
- An increased sensitivity to glare
- A distortion of vision that makes objects appear as if you’re looking at them through a veil.
The standard cataract surgical procedure is performed in a hospital or in an outpatient surgery center. There is no overnight stay at the facility. The most common form of cataract surgery today involves a process called phacoemulsification. After numbing the eye with drops or an injection, your surgeon, with the use of an operating microscope, will make a very small incision in the surface of the eye in or near the cornea. A thin ultrasound probe, which is often confused with a laser by patients, is inserted into the eye and uses high-ultrasonic vibrations to break up (phacoemulsify) the clouded lens. These tiny fragmented pieces are then suctioned out of the eye using the same ultrasound probe. Once the cataract is removed, an artificial lens is placed into the thin capsular bag that the cataract previously occupied. This lens is essential to help your eye focus after surgery.
This is the most common form of cataract removal as explained above. In this most modern method, cataract surgery can usually be performed in less than 30 minutes and usually requires only minimal sedation. Numbing eye drops or an injection around the eye is used and, in general, no stitches are used to close the wound, and often no eye patch is required after surgery. Although phacoemulsification itself is not performed using a laser, a femtosecond laser may be used to make an opening in the anterior capsule of the lens immediately prior to the emulsification of the lens.