Eye Condition Focus: Cataracts

4th December 2014
LaserVision

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Each month, LaserVision highlight a different eye condition with the aim of raising awareness of the symptoms while providing information on the cause and possible treatments available at LaserVision. This month, we are highlighting the age related, unavoidable condition of cataracts.
What is a cataract?

A cataract is the clouding that develops in the lens of the eye as we age, varying in degree from slight to complete opacity which can obstruct vision and result in blindness if not treated. Loss in vision occurs because opacification of the lens obstructs light from passing and being focused on to the retina at the back of the eye. Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness in the world even though it is conventionally treated with surgery, however many people with the condition, especially in developing countries do not have access to such facilities or treatment.

Symptoms:

A gradual clouding in the lens of the eye which leads to blurred vision and even blindness. Often patients will have problems appreciating colours and changes in contrast, difficulty with driving, reading and recognizing faces, and glare from bright light.

Cause:

Cataracts usually develop slowly over years in mid-advanced age and gradually reduce one’s ability to read small print, achieve excellent vision with both glasses and contact lenses and to drive at night. Sometimes a cataract can develop over several months however in rare cases, a cataract can appear to develop suddenly; this is usually because a patient covers the good eye and suddenly recognizes he or she has been relying on the opposite eye. Alternatively, long-term exposure to ultraviolet light, exposure to radiation, secondary effects of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and advanced age, or trauma (possibly much earlier) can also contribute to cataracts, even prematurely.

Treatment:

The only proven treatment that is effective and reverses the effect of cataract is surgical removal of the natural lens and implantation of an artificial lens. This procedure is often called ‘phacoemulsification’. The cataract removal procedure is a routine procedure which takes between 5 and 15 minutes to perform.

While cataract surgery is free on the NHS, they do not offer the option to replace your lens with one that also corrects your refractive error, meaning you may still need glasses after treatment. LaserVision however do offer various lens options to suit your needs, thus alleviating the need for glasses in one procedure. Your LaserVision consultant surgeon can expertly guide you through the best lens option for you.

NEW bladeless cataract surgery is now available with our new Z8 Femtosecond Laser, exclusive to our Guildford clinic – the only UK clinic to have this new state-of-the-art laser. To find out more about this new cataract surgery procedure, please contact our Guildford clinic on 01483 209 518.

Read more about cataract treatment and surgery here.

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