Robert K. Maloney (Ophthalmologist) gives expert video advice on: Are cataracts preventable?; Will I get a cataract? and more...
What is "cataract"?
A cataract is a haziness in the natural lens in your eye that focuses light. As that lens gets hazy it doesn't focus light as well and so your vision gets blurry.
Why does a cataract occur?
A cataract is a haziness in the crystalline lens, or the natural lens of the eye. A cataract a natural part of ageing, and as the lens in the eye gets hazy it stops focusing light properly and your vision gets hazy.
What are the most common symptoms of cataract?
The most common symptoms of cataract is your vision's blurry. It's just not as clear as it used to be. Another fairly common symptom is you may notice increased glare around lights at night. We may notice increased glare, particularly when you're driving towards a setting sun, and it can be almost blinding. Either of those, glare or blurred vision, can be a sign of cataract.
Are cataracts preventable?
There's been debate about whether or not cataracts can be prevented. There's good evidence that a lot of UV exposure may cause cataracts so it's worth protecting your eyes from UV exposure by wearing sunglasses when you're outdoors. There's no evidence that nutritional supplements help prevent cataracts and so generally we think of them as not being preventable.
Will I get a cataract?
Everyone gets a cataract if you live long enough. The reason is that cataracts are a natural ageing change in the lens of the eye. Just like gray is a natural aging change of hair as we get older. So when people ask me "Will I get a cataract?" I always like to say "I hope so, I hope you live long enough to get a cataract."
What are the common ways of treating cataract?
There's no way to clean off the haziness of the natural crystal lens. The only way to treat a cataract is to take it out surgically and replace the hazy crystal lens with a clear plastic lens.
What is cataract surgery?
In cataract surgery we insert a tiny probe into your eye. We vacuum out the hazy natural lens and then take a new lens made out of silicone or acrylic material, roll it up into a tight roll, slip it through that tiny incision, unroll it and position it to replace the hazy lens that has been removed. It's an incredible operation and it restores vision.
What can I expect from cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is actually an easy operation nowadays. In the old days, people used to lie in bed for three weeks with sand bags on either side of their heads so they couldn't move, but all of that is gone. Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure. You go to a surgery centre, you get an IV, and you change into a hospital gown. About 45 minutes later you're taken into the operating room. You're sedated during the operation so you're not aware of very much. The procedure takes typically about ten minutes nowadays. You're awake during the cataract surgery, but very relaxed. There are no needles or injections. After ten minutes you're rolled back out, and about 45 minutes later you go home. The next day you see very well. So, cataract surgery nowadays is really a modern miracle.