What is a cataract ?
A cataract is the loss of transparency in the cristalline lens.This is normally clear and transparent up to the age of 45 and which is capable of changing its shape thus permitting us to focus on an object, be it near or far. It is a big public health problem and a significant cause of blindness in the third world. It can’t be called an illness as such, it being a problem related to ageing which everyone will have between the ages of 65-70. This isn’t a precise figure though, as some people will develop a cataract earlier and others will not do so until their eighties. años.
Causes of cataracts
The most common type of cataract is the senile cataract, that is, related to age. Some other causes which can accelerate the formation of cataracts are:- Diabetes, genetic, taking medication such as corticosteroids, ocular trauma, previous ocular surgery, exposure to radiation etc
- Blurred vision and sometimes double vision.
- Dazzle and sensitivity to light.
- Frequent changes in graduation so that sometimes it is not necessary to wear glasses for reading.
- Poor night vision.
- Colours become washed out or yellowish.
It’s still very frequent in daily consultations to hear patients relate how their grandparents were able to read their medication prospectuses without glasses. This was really owing to the magnifying effect caused by opacified cristalline lenses which allowed them to do this since it is not normal to be able to focus at that age without corrective glasses unless you are shortsighted.
After dilating the pupil with drops, your ophthalmologist will carry out a meticulous examination of your sight. Using a specialist slit lamp the doctor will see if there is a cataract and evaluate if it is advanced or not. At the same time he will take the opportunity to use an ophthalmoscope to check for other ocular disorders such as glaucoma, problems with the retina and optic nerve. The rate of development of a cataract varies a lot, it can take years or produce great loss of vision within 6 months. Sometimes it even takes longer to develop in one eye than in the other. At present there is no proven efficient treatment for its prevention nor is there any influence from lifestyle or n
The treatment of cataracts is by surgery. Cataract surgery must be carried out when they are causing sufficient loss of vision to prevent the patient from doing their most normal activities such as driving, reading, watching tv, walking, or any other favorite interests.
At present there is a tendency to carry out surgery earlier than in the past when it was said that the cataract was “ ripe” for its treatment. Fortunately, these days it is not the case, cataract surgery being the most satisfying in the word of surgery because it it usually quick, painless and with a rapid return to normal vision and activities.
Surgery is normally carried out under local anaesthetic with a surgical technique called facoemulsification. This uses ultrasound to break up the cristalline lens into small fragments which are then removed by suction and extracted from the eye. Finally an intraocular lens is put in its place.
It is not possible at the moment to remove catarcts completely just by using a laser as it is generally thought but, with a Fentosegundo laser it is possible to carry out some surgical steps such as making the incision in the cornea, capsulorepsis and fragmentation of the nucleus followed by aspiration and the introduction of an intraocular lens. Inspite of the fact that cataract surgery is a precise, safe technique, it is not without risks, some of which can lead to partial or complete loss of vision, an event which can happen even though being in expert hands with long experience of this type of surgery.
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