A cataract is a "clouding" of the lens of the eye. Contrary to what many people think, it is not a film that grows over the eye!
The lens of the eye is located behind the iris (the iris is the coloured part of the eye and has the pupil in the centre)
The lens works in a similar way to the lens of a camera. It focuses light rays on the retina at the back of the eye, and the image is then transmitted to your brain.
When the lens becomes cloudy, the light rays cannot pass through it, and the image becomes blurry. Once a cataract starts it usually gets progressively worse.
Cataracts in over 90% of cases develop as part of the aging process. They can also be caused by eye injuries, certain diseases (e.g. diabetes), medications or genetic inheritance.
When you are not able to see well enough to do the things you like to do, cataract surgery should be considered.
Surgery is the only way to treat a cataract. There are no eye drops that dissolve or prevent cataracts. We use the latest microsurgical technique called phaco-emulsification.
A tiny incision (2.4 mm) is made into the eye through which the surgeon inserts an instrument the size of a pen tip. Ultrasonic pulses are used to break down and remove the cloudy lens (figure 1).
The surgeon then replaces the cloudy lens with an artificial lens (intra-ocular lens). The intraocular lens is injected into the eye and unfolds to its natural shape (figure 2). The incision used is a self-sealing incision and sutures (stitches) are not used.
The surgery is done with local anaesthetic so you will be awake during the procedure. Dr Anderson uses topical anaesthetic. This means anaesthetic eye drops are used and that no injections are used around the eye. Usually, you will be mildly sedated.
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure and you will spend half a day in hospital.
You will need to use eye drops for a few weeks following the procedure to help prevent infection and reduce inflammation.
Cataract surgery is one of the most successful surgical procedures performed today and millions of people undergo the procedure each year with excellent results.