Cataracts are a common occurrence among ageing people setting in as early as 50 years of age. As we get older, the eye’s clear lens begins to progressively harden and get cloudier. Although the rate of cataract development is different for different people, and even different for each eye in the same person, it takes many years for the condition to progress to a point where it impacts our vision significantly on a daily basis. Even though the only way to get rid of a cataract is through a surgery, it need not be administered as long as the vision isn’t affected to a crippling extent.
How do you decide when to get a surgery?
It is not necessary to remove a cataract just because it is present in the eye. Unlike the decades-old notion that waiting too long makes cataract extraction difficult and risky, the surgical procedures have advanced since, and the trend to opt for surgery has changed in recent times. The decision to opt for the surgery can be boiled down to these factors:
- The cataract is affecting your daily or occupational activities; symptoms such as blurriness, dim or yellowed vision, which affect your ability to distinguish colors and contrasts. An inability to see clearly, and even double vision in the same eye, can make it difficult to read, do basic tasks, or drive a vehicle.
- The cataract is affecting your ability to drive safely; one of the most dangerous consequences of the condition, cataracts make it hard to gauge clearances and depth of field due to the lack of focus and clarity. Other effects also include excessive glare from headlights of oncoming traffic and seeing halos around light sources at night which can be temporarily blinding.
The cataract can be managed in other ways; with a few lifestyle changes such as using Polaroid glasses and wide-brimmed hats that avoid glare, incorporating brighter and contrasting colors at home, and using magnifying glasses to read better. If these changes make it easier, a surgery can be put off for the future.
In general, surgery is only recommended if the cataracts are disrupting your lifestyle and the outcome is expected to improve vision without obscuring treatment for other known eye diseases. The downside, though, is that if cataracts are allowed to develop over a long time they can cause inflammation or increased intraocular pressure that can lead to glaucoma.
Surgery and the outcome.
The standard procedure in the surgery involves an approach called ‘phacoemulsification’ which uses ultra sound technology to disintegrate the lens, which is then sucked out microscopically. Done under topical anesthesia, it only takes a few minutes and is painless. The recovery time is short as well. The natural lens is replaced with a plastic intraocular lens implant that is made specific to the curvature of the cornea of the individual. The person’s dependency on eyeglasses after the surgery might decrease, while in some cases new eye glasses are required to correct distance/reading vision, based on the implant.
It is possible to acquire 20/20 vision after surgery and have eyesight better than before. Advanced procedures such as laser cataract surgery have lesser side effects with faster recovery times. A cataract operation cost can be lowered significantly when you book surgery packages online well ahead of time.
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