Thursday, August 4, 2016

Cataracts and cataract surgery - What you need to know.

Cataracts, and cataract surgery – What you need to know.
What are cataracts?
In fact there are several forms of cataracts and the identification of the different types depends largely on where the opacity is in the lens. Some cataracts develop very slowly, with vision reducing gradually over some years.  Other cataracts will progress faster, sometimes becoming operable in a few months or even weeks.  
The Nuclear cataract
This cataract is most commonly experienced, as we get older.  As we age the lenses in our eyes start to change with a yellowing seen deep in the central nucleus
of the lens that will eventually darken to a brown colour.  The stage of a developing cataract where brown is observed in the lens is called brunescence. This type of cataract will lead to a progressive reduction in the ability to see clearly and may make sufferers see colours tinged with yellow.
The Cortical cataract
A cortical cataract is categorised by white, spoke-like cloudiness observed in the cortex of the lens –the area that surrounds the nucleus.  A cortical cataract will typically begin peripherally and then gradually progress towards the centre of the field of vision.
The Sub capsular cataract
The sub capsular cataract will appear behind the lens and is often flagged up initially by experiencing a glare around bright lights.  Typically sufferers might report a problem with a glare from oncoming headlights.  The condition will eventually progress to a general reduction in vision. The sub-capsular cataract is often found in patents who suffer with diabetes or in patients who are taking steroids in high doses.
How likely is it that I will develop cataracts?
In the UK, over 50% of people who are over 65 years of age are likely to develop some degree of age-related cataracts and for those aged over 85 the percentage rises to 70%.  Although those in the higher age groups are far more likely to get cataracts younger people and babies can also be affected where the condition is known as congenital or childhood cataracts.
As far as gender difference is concerned, cataracts do occur slightly more commonly in women than men. Ethnic background can also be a factor with the age at which cataracts occur being lower in patients from the Indian sub continent.
Considered a relatively minor problem that is easily dealt with in the West, globally cataracts are the number one cause of avoidable blindness. Over fifty per cent of all blindness in the world can be attributed to cataracts and this is a World Health Organisation priority, worldwide.
What is the treatment for Cataracts?
The only way to deal with a cataract is to remove it during cataract surgery.  The surgery will remove the central nucleus of the eye and the lens cortex.  With the removal of the natural lens any opacity, wherever it occurs, will be removed with the extraction of the lens.  
Once the nucleus and surrounding cortex has been removed, the clear surrounding bag of the lens (the capsule) will be left behind. An intraocular lens (IOL) implant will then be placed into the capsule.
The power of the IOL will be calculated so that the patient will have clear distance vision. The lens can also be provided for reading and intermediate vision with a multifocal IOL. Additionally the bifocal and even trifocal IOL options are becoming a popular choice for patients having cataract surgery. 

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