Do you enjoy seeing and beholding the world each day? Or have you simply accepted that you can see “well enough”, even in the early stages of cataract development?
Cataracts occur as we age and the natural crystalline lens of the eye begins to cloud over.
Traditionally, cataract surgery has only been recommended in the more severe stages of cataracts, once it begins to seriously limit the patient’s daily life, such as driving and reading.
However, as treatment options and technologies continue to develop, the risk of complications is lower than ever before and patients are now considering surgical treatment of cataracts even in the early stages.
When is my cataract ready for removal?
I often get this question from patients: “Are my cataracts ready to be removed”? The truth is the timing of surgery depends on what you do every day and how your vision is affecting your daily tasks and your enjoyment of these activities. If you are having difficulties with your vision and you are frustrated with how your vision if affecting your life then we should consider removing the cataracts.
How will cataract surgery improve my vision?
The clouding of the eye’s lens that comes from having a cataract can cause visual disturbances, such as glare and halos when viewing bright light sources; it can reduce contrast sensitivity when looking at objects of a similar colour or at night; and it can decrease your depth perception if one eye is worse than the other.
Cataract surgery improves vision by removing the cloudy natural lens, and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). Once the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear one, vision will become clear and focused once again.
How is cataract surgery performed?
Cataract surgery can be done manually (which is the traditional method) or laser-assisted. Only a limited number of clinics offer this laser-assisted method, as it requires the use of the latest laser technology.
Dr Goh will discuss with you at your initial consultation the pros and cons of each method, as pertains to your specific circumstances.
Cataract surgery is done as a day surgery at the Manningham Prvate Hospital.
The anaesthetist will first give you a mild sedative to help you stay relaxed and calm during the procedure. You will then be given an anaesthetic injection or eye drops to numb the eye.
The manual method of surgery involves a tiny (2.2mm) incision made at the front of the eye and an opening made in the capsular bag, which is a thin membrane that surrounds the cataract.
An ultrasound probe is used to break down and aspirate the cataract, using high frequency ultrasound energy. The artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is then folded and inserted into the now-empty capsular bag.
In laser-assisted surgery, Dr Goh uses the advanced LenSx® femtosecond laser cataract platform, which allows for image-guided, computer-controlled precision in making the incisions in the cornea, creating the perfect-sized opening and performing segmentation of the lens prior to it being broken down and extracted by the same ultrasound probe. Using the laser improves the precision of several key steps performed during cataract surgery. Other benefits include quicker recovery time and reduced chances of complications during surgery.
All incisions are self-sealing, which means no sutures are required. You may return home after recovering from the sedation.
Who is cataract surgery recommended for?
Cataract surgery is recommended when the clouding of your eye is affecting your daily life activities and enjoyment.
During your initial assessment, Dr Goh will perform several tests to assess your vision, the severity of your cataracts, as well as the general health of your eye.
It is important during your assessment that you tell us about any visual disturbances you are experiencing and how the cataracts are affecting your life. There’s no such thing as being too specific, as these details are important for your surgeon to make an accurate assessment of your condition.
Consider how your vision is impacted while driving, in bright light or in low light situations, and whether there are any activities you have ceased due to loss of clear vision.
Once cataracts have started to develop and vision diminishes, it’s easy to accept it as your “new normal” and just make do if you feel that you can still see well enough. However, advancements in technology and surgical techniques mean you don’t need to accept cloudy vision anymore. Cataract surgery is now a very low risk operation that allows you to enjoy clear vision again.