What is it?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye, which leads to a decrease in vision. It is the most common cause of reversible blindness. Visual loss occurs because opacification of the lens obstructs light from passing through and being focused on to the retina at the back of the eye. While there are a variety of other causes, the most common cause is biological ageing.
A person with cataracts typically has trouble discerning colours and changes in contrast, driving, reading, recognising faces and coping with glare from bright lights.
How is it treated?
During cataract surgery, the lens inside your eye that has become cloudy is removed and replaced with an artificial lens (referred to as an intraocular lens, or IOL) to restore clear vision.
Cataract surgery is an extremely common operation. It usually only takes about 20 minutes and does not require an overnight stay in hospital.
Modern cataract procedures involve the use of a high-frequency ultrasound device that breaks up the cloudy lens into small pieces, which are then gently removed from the eye with suction through a microscopic incision.
Prior to surgery the eye is scanned using laser scanners which quantify the parameters of the eye and allow for calculation of the power of the artificial lens which is to be implanted.
After all the remnants of the cloudy lens have been removed from your eye, the surgeon inserts a clear intraocular lens, positioning it securely behind the iris and pupil, in the same location that the natural lens occupied.
The surgeon then completes the cataract removal and IOL implantation procedure by closing the incision in the eye (a stitch is typically not needed), and a protective shield is placed over the eye to keep it safe in the early stages of recovery.