Cataract is clouding of the normally clear and transparent lens inside the eye. When cataract develops, the lens becomes cloudy as if a frosted-window obstructing light transmission to the retina. Cataract develops gradually over years and it may affect one or both of your eyes, but the rate of progression varies among individuals. If the cataract only covers a small part of the lens, your eyesight may not be affected. If a large portion of the lens becomes cloudy, your eyesight can be partially or completely lost.
What causes Cataract?
There are many causes and the most common cause is aging of the eye that leads to hardening and clouding of the lens. Children and new-born babies can also develop cataract due to hereditary disorders, metabolic diseases or congenital infections. A hard blow, puncture, cut or chemical burn to the eye can damage the lens resulting in traumatic cataract. Certain infections or diseases of the eye, such as diabetes, as well as some medications, such as steroids, can also cause cataract.
Symptoms of Cataract
Early or mild cataract may not affect your eyesight at all. As cataract progresses, there may be:
Blurred vision
Double vision
Photophobia or sensitivity to light and glaring
Impaired colour vision
Feeling that the lighting is not bright enough for reading
Frequent need to change your spectacle prescriptions
How do I know if I have Cataract?
Cataract usually cannot be detected from the outside without special equipment. Other eye diseases may also cause symptoms similar to cataract. Therefore, if you have blurred vision or other symptoms as mentioned, you should consult your ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye examination for the diagnosis of cataract and exclude other eye diseases.
Treatment for Cataract
Surgery is the only effective way to remove the cloudy lens. Your cataract may not need treatment at all if your vision is only a little blurry. Your ophthalmologist will decide when removal is necessary depending on your visual needs. There is no need to wait for the cataract to become "mature" before it can be removed.
Phacoemulsification Cataract Surgery

Phacoemulsification with implantation of an intraocular lens (IOL) is the state-of-the-art technology for cataract removal. A small incision is made at the periphery of the cornea and the anterior membrane of the lens is first removed. The cataractous lens is then removed by fragmentation with ultrasonic energy followed by aspiration of the fragmented lens material. Comparing to other cataract surgery such as ECCE that requires a large incision between 10 to 12 mm, phacoemulsification can be done through a much smaller incision that is less than 2 mm. The surgery is performed under an operating microscope and the cloudy cataractous lens removed from the eye using ultrasonic energy with a suitable intraocular lens (IOL) implanted. The surgery is usually performed under topical anaesthesia with eye drops and eye gel and you will not feel any pain. Some patients who cannot lie down steadily or children may need general anaesthesia.

Most patients are suitable for implantation of an intraocular lens (IOL). The ophthalmologist will decide during surgery if the patient is suitable for implantation in order to reduce the chance of other complications.

Phacoemulsification can be done through a very small incision and no stitching is needed. Comparing to other cataract surgery, phacoemulsification is safer and the complication rate is lower.

Is there any special care required after surgery?
Following surgery, you will need to use eye drops and medications as prescribed. You should avoid vigorous activities until the wound has healed. It is important not to rub or press on the eye. Sometimes, the posterior lens membrane may become opacified months or years after the cataract surgery leading to blurring of vision. If this occurs, a clear opening can be made in the opacified membrane with a special laser treatment.
What is the success rate?
The vision can be improved in over 90% of patients unless there are existing eye diseases involving the cornea, retina or optic nerve or there are medical diseases such as diabetic eye complications. Even with such problems, cataract surgery may still significantly improve your eyesight.
Is the surgery safe?
With medical and technological advances, cataract surgery is a safe and effective procedure in restoring your eyesight. Complications are uncommon but it is important to understand that some complications can be severe enough to limit your vision. Intraocular pressure may increase after cataract surgery and the posterior lens membrane may become opacified are some of the examples.
Is it painful?
Doctors and nurses will apply anesthetic eye drops or eye gel onto your eye before the surgery so that you will not feel any pain during surgery. The surgery normally takes about 15 minutes. You just need to rest a while after the surgery before you go home on the same day.
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