What is a cataract?
A cataract is when the natural lens becomes cloudy. Cataracts most often develop gradually, and people may not notice the decrease in vision initially. This can be age-related, after injury, due to medical conditions and medications. Risk factors include diabetes, steroid medications, smoking, ultraviolet exposure, inflammation of eye, prior eye surgery, injury to the eye, and genetics.
What are symptoms of a cataract?
Cataracts cause a decrease in vision including:
How can cataracts be treated?
Currently, there is no effective medical treatment for cataracts. Options that can be tried include, avoiding UV exposure, controlling blood sugar in diabetes, avoiding eye injury, increase lighting conditions for reading, using magnifying lenses.
Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures in medicine, and it is one of the most successful surgeries. Most often, the cataract is removed by phacoemulsification in which a small instrument is used to soften and remove the cataract from the eye. The cataract is then replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL). There are many types of IOLs including monofocal, multifocal, near-vision enhancing, and astigmatism correcting. The goal of the IOL is to reduce the dependency on glasses or contacts for distance and/or near vision after cataract surgery.
A more recent technology is the use of the femtosecond laser in cataract surgery to replace some of the manual parts of the cataract surgery with the precision of laser. The laser helps to soften the cataract and can help reduce the need for glasses after surgery by correcting astigmatism.