Cataract is an eye disease in which the normally clear lens of the eyes become cloudy leading to a decrease in one’s vision. It is commonly related to the aging process. In younger people, the lens is clear and is able to change shape for accurate focusing, but as people age the proteins in the lens breaks down making it rigid and cloudy.
Cataract is not only an old age disorder: Apart from old age, conditions such as diabetes, swelling or infection within the eye, like in the case of iritis (inflammation of the iris) or uveitis, blunt or penetrating injury to the eye, prolonged sun exposure to X- rays or UV rays, certain diseases like eczema or thyroid disorder, smoking and tobacco use, family history of cataract, other genetic diseases like Downs’s syndrome, infections like herpes or rubella which affect the baby while in the womb and various medications like steroids can also lead to cataracts.
Cataract surgery is not an emergency surgery, but is definitely required:
You may consider going in for cataract surgery when your cataract causes problems in carrying out your daily activities. Cataract surgery is usually not an emergency surgery and you can take your time to make your decision.
Not everybody can have cataract surgery:
A doctor may advise against cataract surgery if -
-The patient feels that he is able to go about his daily tasks with glasses
-The patient is not medically fit and is suffering from high blood pressure, high blood sugars, acute infection, lung diseases, bleeding disorders etc. Ideally it is advisable that one get these conditions under control before the surgery.
- The patient has other diseases which would prevent his vision from becoming normal despite undergoing cataract surgery.
Not all forms of cataract require surgery:
In the initial stages, a number of people with cataract can manage their day-to-day tasks with the help of glasses or bifocal spectacles, better lighting, use of magnifying glasses, or sunglasses to reduce glare and better vision. Only in people whose degradation in their vision is affecting their daily life, is the surgery required.
There are plenty of options to choose from:
There are a number of surgeries that can be performed, and usually it is a decision between the patient and the doctor to decide which one would suit the patient better. One of the options is MICS – which is a form of stitchless surgery. Other options include the use of artificial lenses that are surgically inserted into the patient’s eyes. The doctor will choose between monofocals, multifocals, foldable, aspheric or toric, depending on the lifestyle of the patient.
There is a risk of complications:
Complications arising from cataract surgery are not very common. However, if one does have any other medical condition or eye disease, the chances of developing complications are higher. (Read: Nine lose eyesight after undergoing cataract op at Anand hospital). Post-op care by the patient is of prime importance.
Beware of the complications:
At times, depending on the difficulty of the operation, a doctor’s skill and the sterilization of the instruments or the fact that some patients do not follow the doctor’s post-op instructions properly, there is a possibility of certain complications creeping in. Some of them are: Infection, inflammation, swelling, bleeding, detachment of retina, glaucoma or damage to the optic nerve from increased pressure, secondary cataract or opacity behind the bag containing the lens.
Keep a check on your post operative progress:
Contact your doctor immediately if you suffer from loss of vision, increasing eye redness, persisting pain, floaters or flashes in your vision, nausea, vomiting or excess cough.
There are options even after a complication, but time is of the essence: Complications like infections, inflammation, raised eye pressure can be taken care of by medications. Secondary cataract, detachment of retina may require laser or surgery. However, they need to be attended to immediately.
Cataract surgery rarely leads to complete loss of vision: In very rare cases, a person can lose their sight due to dangerous complications like retinal detachment or if the infection becomes severe and is left untreated. However, with the advent of newer technologies and better antibiotics, we hardly ever have anyone lose their sight from complications and this has become reduced to almost a theoretical possibility.
Protect your eyes after the surgery, some tips to follow:
- Avoid rubbing or applying pressure to your eyes.
-Avoid strenuous exercises or bending.
-Protect your eyes from strong sunlight, dust and grime.
-Avoid swimming or hot tubs for a fortnight.
-You may be required to wear an eye patch while sleeping for a week.
-Take your eye drops and other medications as advised.
-Go for follow-ups, they are important:
Follow up may be required after a day or two followed by a visit one week and one month later.
Health.India.com/Dr Vandana Jain