The term cataract derives from the view we get when looking through a waterfall.
- A cataract is the clouding or opacity of the lens inside the eye. The lens has the shape of a lentil and lies behind the coloured part of the eye, the iris.
- In a normal eye, this lens is clear. It helps focus light rays on to the back of the eye, the retina, which sends messages to the brain allowing us to see. When a cataract develops, the lens becomes cloudy and prevents the light rays from passing to the retina.
- Cataracts usually form slowly and people experience a gradual blurring of vision.
“I didn’t know that I had a cataract until my doctor told me!”
Some people may not be aware that a cataract is developing. It can start at the edge of the lens and initially may not cause problems with vision. Generally, as cataracts develop, people experience blurring or hazing of vision. Often they become more sensitive to light and glare.
I seemed to have to go to the optician more to get new glasses.
There may be a need to get new prescriptions for glasses more often when a cataract is developing. When cataracts worsen, stronger glasses no longer improve sight. Objects have to be held close to the eye to be seen. The hole in the iris, the pupil, may no longer look black. It may instead look white or yellow.
Questions & Answers
Do cataracts spread from eye to eye?
No. But often they develop in both eyes at the same time.
Has my cataract been caused by overuse of my eyes?
No. Cataracts are not caused by over use of the eyes and using the eyes when the cataracts start will not make them get worse.
Are there different kinds of cataract?
Yes. Cataracts can be caused by injuries to the eye. This type of cataract is called a traumatic cataract.
Can children have cataracts?
Yes. Babies can be born with this condition. This is called congenital cataract.
Is there a link between diabetes and cataracts?
Yes. Cataracts are more common in people who have diabetes.
Are cataracts just a part of getting old?
Most forms of cataract develop in adult life. The normal process of ageing causes the lens to harden and become cloudy. This is called age-related cataract and it is the most common type. It can occur at any time after the age of 40.
When do I have my cataract treated?
When the cataract progresses to the point that it is interfering with daily activities and normal lifestyle, cataract surgery is usually the next step. Cataracts don’t grow back after surgery.
Could anything have been done to stop me developing a cataract?
There is no known prevention for cataract. Advanced modern cataract surgery using a small incision is highly successful for the great majority of patients.
Are cataracts removed by laser?
No. Surgery is the only effective way to remove a cloudy lens. It is removed with highly sophisticated state of the art equipment available at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai.
I have a cataract developing in both eyes, are both treated at the same time?
No, the second eye is operated on a few weeks later.
Do I need any special tests before the operation?
Yes. We will carry out precise measurements of the eyes. Here at Moorfields Hospital we use the IOL Master, one of the most accurate instruments available at this time.
What kind of anaesthetic is necessary?
Most operations for cataracts are performed under local anaesthetic, drops alone or anaesthetic around the eye. You will be awake during the operation and aware of a bright light, but you will not be able to see what is happening. Occasionally a sedative agent is given to make you feel more relaxed. General anaesthesia is seldom necessary.
Will I have to stay in hospital?
No. All routine operations for cataracts are performed on a day care basis. This means you are admitted to hospital, have your operation and are discharged in the same day.
What does the operation involve?
Modern small incision cataract surgery at MoorfieldsisperformedwithPhac-oemulsification. This technique uses sound waves to soften the lens, which is then removed through a small tube. The natural Lens is replaced with an Artificial Lens also called IOL.The operation takes between 10-20 minutes.
Are there any complications?
There are some possible complications during the operation such as:
- Tearing of the back part of the lens capsule
This is however rare and should be less than 1/1000 in experienced hands.
The eye may become red and ache. This is a condition called uveitis and can be treated effectively with drops.
- Blurring of the central vision
An accumulation of fluid in the back of the eye (retina) may occur, causing blurring of the central vision. This is known as cystoid macular oedema. This usually resolves itself within a few weeks.
Serious complications are uncommon following cataract surgery. However, like any kind of operation, problems can occur.
After the operation problems with infection and inflammation can present a few days later. If you experience any of the following contact us immediately:
- Light sensitivity
- Red eye
Questions & Answers
Will my eyes need to be covered following the surgery?
Your eye will be covered with a protective plastic eye shield. Some patients may also have an eye pad.
Will I feel any pain after the operation?
As the anaesthetic wears off, there can be a dull ache felt inside and around the eye. You can take paracetamol or other general painkillers that suit you best.
Can I bend down to pray?
Yes, from the following day but you have to be very careful not to injure your eyes or apply any pressure on them.
When will the doctor see me after the operation?
The doctor will see you the day after the operation.
How do I put the eye drops?
A nurse will teach you how to look after your eyes before you are discharged. You will be shown how to clean your eyes and put in the eye drops correctly. Eye drop treatment prevents infection and helps reduce.
Is there anything else I have to do to care for my eye?
You should avoid rubbing or touching your eye. You may find you are sensitive to light, so it is useful to have a pair of plain dark glasses in case you need them. The majority of patients can resume normal physical activity within a week. You should be able to return to work the day following your operation depending on your job, check with the doctor to confirm.
Will I need glasses?
Generally, you will still need glasses for reading and occasionally for distance. You can also choose to have a MULTIFOCAL or an ACCOMODATIVE lens inserted to improve your unaided near vision.
Usually you will have a check-up for your glasses with our Optometrist after 4 weeks. If you would prefer not to depend on the glasses for near vision ask your surgeon about what is available.
Will the lens implant last forever?
Yes. However, 1 in 10 patients will have a thickening of the membrane behind the new lens. This occurs in the months or years following surgery. This is called capsular opacity, and can be effectively treated with the YAG laser in the hospital.