Images entering the eye are focused on to the retina by the lens. The retina converts the image to an electrical signal which is sent to the brain via the optic nerve. It is your brain that sees. Failure of the lens to sufficiently focus the image results in blurry sight.

When the lens losses its transparency and becomes cloudy, it is referred to as a CATARACT. The commonest cause is old age. However, some children are born with the cataracts. Other causes include trauma, medicines, diseases such as diabetes, and genetic causes among other. Cataracts generally develop gradually and are painless.

Cataract surgery is indicated when the cloudiness of the lens results in degradation of the vision to an extent that it interferes with ones work. Common symptoms include cloudy vision, severe glare at night due to oncoming car headlights and or loss or reading vision. There is no medical treatment for cataracts. In the early stages, eye glasses may improve vision for a time.
A cataract can be removed by the Surgeon making a 2 mm incision and inserting a special foldable artificial lens into the eye (PHACOEMULSIFICATON CATARACT SURGICAL TECHNIQUE) or by making a larger 6mm incision and inserting a rigid lens (SMALL INCISION CATARACT SURGERY).

In both procedures, surgery is done as a day case procedure. No admission is necessary. Just under local anesthesia, the patient walks to theater and after the procedure, goes home immediately.

The procedure is easier and safer when the cataract is soft. Delaying surgery can result in a more difficult surgical procedure. As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur, some severe enough to limit vision or make it worse than before. However, cataract surgery is a generally safe procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cataracts

  1. How is a cataract detected? It is identified through a checkup by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. It’s important that a thorough eye examination is performed to ensure that there are no other causes of blurry vision.
  2. How fast does a cataract develop? This varies among individuals and may vary between eyes. When should a person with a cataract have surgery? Cataract surgery is usually considered when loss of vision begins to interfere with daily activities or affects quality of life.
  3. How is a cataract treated? During the early stages of a cataract, a change in glasses may improve the clarity of vision, though this is usually temporary. When cataracts begin to interfere with day-to-day activities, surgical removal is the only effective treatment.
  4. Will I need glasses after the surgery? Most patients will require glasses for fine visual tasks / reading, although some patients can get by without them for most activities. 
  5. Does the operation hurt? It only hurts during the local anaesthesia administration, as the needle goes through the lower eyelid. In some cases, no injection is given, as the eye is numbed using eye drops. There is no pain during surgery. Some people experience slight discomfort after the surgery. The anaesthetic injection stops the eye from moving during the operation and your eyelids are held open by a special instrument, so all you have to do is to lie still for the surgery.
  6. Can problems occur after surgery? Cataract surgery is very safe and has very high success rates. However, it is important to understand that complications can occur during or after surgery. If you experience even the slightest problem after surgery, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor immediately. The following signs, especially, should NEVER be ignored: (i)Significant pain, (ii) Rapidly deteriorating vision, (iii) Eyelid swelling and redness.
  7. What is the recovery period after the surgery? The recovery period takes two weeks to a month but may vary from patient to patient.

To Note

  • Maximum visual recovery is achieved within three weeks in phacoemulsification and within eight weeks in the manual procedure.
  • The duration of eye drop use after surgery varies from person to person. However, for most people, the need for eye drops is usually not longer than two months. 
  • Some pre-existing eye conditions can affect the outcome of surgery. For example: 
        Astigmatism: when the curve of the cornea is uneven
        Macula degeneration
        Diabetic eye disease

Therefore, during the clinic visit, the doctor will check for any of these.

  • Except when the cataract was hard and surgery difficult, vision recovery happens immediately the eye pad is removed the next day after surgery.