What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye. The lens is a clear part of the eye that helps to focus light, or an image on the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The cataract blocks light
Symptoms include blurry vision, faded colours, glare, poor night vision and double vision.
Causes of cataracts:
The most common cause for cataracts is ageing. Other causes and risk factors are Diabetes, trauma, congenital (as from birth), use of systemic cortico-steroids and lifestyle problems such as heavy smoking and drinking. Also prolonged exposure to sunlight.
A cataract needs to be removed when vision interferes with your everyday activities such as driving, reading or watching TV and vision cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.
Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens, also called an intra-ocular lens (IOL). Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most successful procedures performed today. It is done on an outpatient basis at a hospital mostly under local anesthetic and is very safe and effective.
We at the St Stephens Hospital in Paarl, are privileged to have state of the art modern equipment to do the procedure. The procedure is known as phako emulcification or phako for short. A tiny incision is made in the eye. The small probe or the phako is then inserted through the incision and then it breaks up the lens with ultrasound waves. The lens is then replaced by intra-ocular lens (IOL) which is a clear plastic lens. The light is then focused by the IOL on the retina.
As with any surgery, cataract surgery poses risks. Your doctor will discuss the potential risks and benefits. These complications are very rare. Millions of people undergo this vision improving procedure every year and the results are excellent.
Article written by: Dr Roland Berry (Paarl)
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