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Cataract –

Cataracts: Symptoms And Causes

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens that can occur with aging, certain medical conditions and trauma. Cataracts may cause blurred vision, dulled vision, sensitivity to light and glare, and/or ghost images. If the cataract changes vision to the extent that it interferes with your daily life, the cataract may need to be removed. Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract.

Cataracts cannot be treated with medication or corrected with glasses. When the cataract impair vision to a degree where it negatively affects daily life, the only effective treatment is to surgically remove the cloudy lens (cataract extraction) and replace it with an implant, a so-called intraocular lens (IOL) Cataract surgery is regarded as safe and reliable. In fact, it is the most frequently performed surgical procedure in the world. During the operation, the natural clouded lens is permanently replaced with a very small artificial lens (IOL). This procedure is well-established and constantly evolving with new technology: for example, new types of intraocular lenses, and more precise devices for diagnosis and imaging.

Diagnosis and symptoms of cataracts

Early-stage cataracts are most often detected by a slit-lamp examination at the ophthalmologist’s office, before any symptoms are detected by the patient. The question of how quickly cataracts progress cannot be answered in general terms. In some cases, it takes many years before the disease leads to blindness if left untreated, while in others it progresses rapidly within a few weeks. In the advanced stage, the following symptoms usually appear in varying degrees, indicating cataracts:

  • Vision deteriorates in near and/or distance vision: Vision becomes more strained.
  • Vision becomes increasingly blurred: Vision feels like looking through fog or a veil.
  • The vision of colours, contours and contrasts deteriorates: everything becomes dull and pale.
  • Glare sensitivity (nyctometry) increases: When light hits the retina, for example from oncoming traffic while driving at night, vision is severely impaired.
  • Light-dark adaptation worsens: It takes longer and longer to become accustomed to changing between light and dark environments.
  • Double vision is perceived: One suddenly sees double, similar to alcohol consumption.
  • Spatial vision (stereopsis) deteriorates: Due to poor depth perception, for example, falls are more likely and climbing stairs becomes a challenge.
  • Cataracts become visible: A grayish or whitish clouding can be seen on the lens.

In addition to cataract, visual impairments such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can also occur around the age of 70. Regular ocular fundus checks must therefore be taken very seriously. Now you can do the self-test with the Amsler grid: Macular Degeneration (AMD) self-test.

Are cataracts treatable?

The good news first: cataracts are curable! Although there is no medication for cataract treatment and without treatment, the lens clouding increases to the point of blindness, cataract surgery permanently solves the problem and completely restores vision. In addition, vision aids due to age-related farsightedness or other refractive errors are also no longer necessary after eye lens surgery with the use of a multifocal lens.

Factors to consider when choosing IOL

One of the main differences in the outcome of the surgery is the type of lens that is implanted in place of your natural lens. There are different types of intraocular lenses available nowadays.

The standard monofocal lens enables the patient to see far without glasses but results in the necessity of glasses for near vision. The more advanced multifocal IOLs, which offer additional independence from glasses, are the Trifocal lenses which enable patients to see clearly at different distance like far, intermediate and near.

Treating cataracts

Cataract surgery has proven to be a safe and effective treatment method for many years. It is a routine treatment usually performed on an out-patient basis. It takes between 15 to 20 minutes. The surgery is performed on one eye at a time. The second eye if also affected by cataract is usually treated a few days later.

Here is a step-by-step guide to everything that occurs before and during the process, from preparations at home, to walking out of the operating room.

Preparations on the day of the surgery

On the day of your operation, there are few things you should keep in mind:

Do not wear any lotion, make-up, after-shave, or perfume.
Wear normal and relaxing clothes.
Eat a light meal no later than five hours before the procedure and stay hydrated to ensure a stable circulation for the procedure.
Arrange for transportation afterwards.
The procedure generally does not require sutures, which aids a quicker recovery. You will be allowed to go home after a short observation period on the day of the surgery.

After the procedure

The recovery after cataract surgery is relatively short – it can take a few days.
You will immediately notice a significant vision improvement following the operation. However, you may also experience blurriness and feel discomfort. It can take a few days for the eye to adjust and vision to improve.
For an optimal recovery, follow your doctor's detailed instructions about how to protect your eye after the procedure, and go to your follow-up exams.

Driving with cataracts

Driving a car with cataracts is only permitted as long as vision is at least 70 percent. If the visual acuity is less than this, an ophthalmologist’s certificate must be available that certifies the ability to drive. If vision falls below 50 percent, driving is generally no longer permitted. With cataracts, this can quickly become the case. In order for you to be mobile again and thus independent of public transportation, cataract surgery may be useful to restore your vision.

LEC is a proud member of the EuroEyes Group, with years of experience in refractive surgery

EuroEyes has long-term experience in the treatment of cataracts, thanks to the outstanding pioneering position of Dr. Jørn Jørgensen in the field of cataract surgery. As early as 1990, he succeeded in being the first eye surgeon in Hamburg to perform cataract surgery on an outpatient basis – using a new small incision technique (phacoemulsification)- and less than a year later introduced “surgery without sutures”. EuroEyes has unique and incomparable experience in the treatment of cataracts.