what causes cataract melbourne

What Causes Cataract?

Developing cataracts is often considered just a normal part of ageing. Although requiring cataract surgery is not necessarily inevitable, it is the most common eye procedure in the Western world for this reason. Whether you’re just curious, you know someone with cataracts, or you’ve been told you’re developing cataracts yourself, keep reading to learn about what causes cataract.

What Causes Cataract?

Cataracts are an opacity or haze of the crystalline lens in the eye. Where the lens started as transparent in a healthy eye at birth, with time or due to other causes, it can begin to develop opacities or cloudiness. This can lead to the typical cataract symptoms, including:

  • Blurry, hazy, foggy, or filmy vision
  • Increased sensitivity to glare and bright lights
  • More difficulty with seeing in low contrast environments, such as reading in dim lighting
  • Altered colour perception
  • Frequent changes to your spectacle or contact lens prescription

So, here’s some of what we know about what causes cataract.

Older age.

Cataracts are most common in those over the age of 50. There is a whole classification of cataracts attributed to increasing age, known as senile or age-related cataracts. It is thought that the accumulation of oxidative stress and damaging compounds within the body with age is responsible for developing cataracts. Free oxygen radicals and other molecules can damage DNA in the cells of the lens, as well as disrupt the careful arrangement of proteins and fibres. This results in the loss of transparency of the lens, which we then term a cataract. 

Genetics.

Genetic inheritance plays a role in many diseases, including those of the eye. The influence on genes comes from two directions. One is that some syndromes, which include an increased risk of cataracts, can be inherited or at least have some degree of genetic influence. These include myopia (short-sightedness), retinitis pigmentosa (a blinding eye condition), and Marfan’s syndrome. 

The other aspect of genetic predisposition to cataracts is the possibility of certain genes making one more susceptible to environmental causes of cataracts. This may explain why people with parents who developed cataracts at an early age may be at risk of also needing early cataract surgery. One study has noted that people who have a sibling with cataracts are three times more likely to grow cataracts too. 

Lifestyle choices.

Both cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption have been implicated in the development of cataract. As a side note, some research indicates that moderate alcohol consumption, which the study defined as 20g of alcohol per day, may actually help to reduce your risk of developing a cataract. 

Eye injuries.

Any disruption or damage to the fibres of the crystalline lens can cause a cataract. This can be from an electric shock to the body, or even from an eye operation unrelated to cataract surgery. Trauma to the eye may cause cataracts. This can include blunt injuries such as a cricket bat to the eye, or a penetrating injury, such as a sharp tree branch. A cataract can also be caused by ocular inflammation, such as a condition known as uveitis. 

Other medical conditions.

Certain systemic diseases have the potential to cause cataracts.

causes of cataract melbourne These include diabetes, which involves elevated glucose levels in the bloodstream. This can upset the balance of fluid content in the lens, resulting in what is often termed a “sugar cataract”.

Hypertension (high blood pressure), has been found to be associated with an increased risk of cataract too, as has obesity.

Though these are not often mentioned when discussing what causes cataract, managing these associated diseases well could possibly reduce cataract formation. 

Cataract Surgery

The only definitive way of treating a cataract is through cataract surgery. However, in the early stages of cataract development, you may be content to continue with your vision as it is. Many people are unaware of any changes to their vision when their cataracts are only mild. 

Slowly progressing cataracts can be managed by updating your glasses or contact lenses, and increasing the lighting around your home or office as needed. Once these solutions are no longer adequate to improve your sight to an adequate level, you may discuss them with your eye care professional about cataract surgery

In the majority of cases, understanding what causes your cataract is not relevant to your operation. However, you should still disclose all medical history to your ophthalmologist prior to cataract surgery. For example, cataract surgery is known to carry more risks of complications in people with diabetes, including swelling of the macula or exacerbation of diabetic retinopathy. 

Cataract surgery is a relatively straightforward day procedure. Prior to the operation, your pupils will be dilated with eyedrops and your eye area will be numbed with a local or topical anaesthetic. Though we don’t typically use general anaesthesia, you may be given a light sedative. Your ophthalmologist then creates a small incision in the front surface of the eye so that instruments can be inserted to break the cataract into fragments. These pieces are then suctioned from the eye, and an implant is inserted in the place of the hazy lens, allowing you to see clearly once more. 

 

If you suspect you’re developing a cataract, speak to your eye care professional about whether cataract surgery is indicated at this point in time. 

 

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

 

References

Age-Related or Senile Cataract: Pathology, Mechanism, and Management. 

https://austinpublishinggroup.com/clinical-ophthalmology/fulltext/ajco-v3-id1067.php

Genetic Origins of Cataract. 

some degree of genetic influence

Cataract Surgery and Its Complications in Diabetic Patients.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/08820538.2014.959197?journalCode=isio20

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What is a Cataract in the Eye? Understand the Basic of Its Treatment

What is a cataract in the eye? Considering that cataract surgery is the most commonly performed eye surgery in the world, it’s most likely that you’ve heard the word “cataract” at least once. However, what a cataract exactly is might still be a mystery to you. Here we discuss what is a cataract in the eye, and the basics of its treatment – cataract surgery.

 

What is a Cataract?

In the eye is an anatomical structure called the crystalline lens. At birth, a healthy lens is clear and transparent. The function of the lens is to adjust its shape to change the way light focuses around the retina. This process is called accommodation and allows us to keep objects in focus as they come nearer.  Because the lens is transparent, light is able to pass through, which is what we need to clear sight. 

 

 

As time passes, or due to other cataract-causing factors, the crystalline lens may lose its transparency. This opacity or clouding of the lens is what we call a cataract, and can reduce the amount of light able to enter the eye. This results in the typical symptoms of a cataract, including:

  • Cloudy, filmy, blurry, or hazy vision. As the haziness of the lens no longer allows light to get through easily, it can deteriorate the quality of your sight.
  • Increased discomfort around bright lights. This is also known as photophobia or glare sensitivity. The opacities of a cataract can scatter light entering the eye, resulting in uncomfortable or even debilitating glare. The effects of this may be more apparent at night, such as when driving.
  • Increased difficulty in low contrast visibility conditions. Contrast vision is the ability to discern details against a similarly shaded background, for example, black text on a grey page. Where this may have been easy to do before you developed a cataract, you may now need improved lighting to increase the contrast. 
  • Alterations to colour vision. One particular type of age-related cataract is known as nuclear sclerosis. This appears as a yellowish-brown haze in the centre (nucleus) of the lens. The shifting colour of your lens can affect your colour perception. 
  • Rapidly changing prescription. Where your spectacle script may have been quite stable for years, you may now find you need to update your lenses every year or even more often in order to keep your sight sharp. A cataract can cause your prescription to shift in any direction, including more long-sighted or more short-sighted. 

The most common cause of cataracts is simply increasing age. The theory behind this is that older bodies are less able to combat the effects of accumulated oxidative stress on their tissues. As toxic compounds build up in and around the eye, this can cause the fibres of the crystalline lens to lose the properties that keep them transparent. 

There are also other factors that can cause cataracts, including injury or inflammation of the eye, certain systemic diseases, and certain medications. Some cataracts may be congenital, meaning they are first detected within the first year of life. These may be genetic or a result of the mother contracting an illness during pregnancy. 

The diagnosis of a cataract doesn’t immediately mean you need eye surgery. Instead, your eye care professional will monitor you until the cataract is having enough of an impact on your sight and lifestyle to warrant cataract surgery.

 

How Does Cataract Surgery Work?

Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures and the number one most frequently performed eye surgery. Although the idea of any eye surgery can be daunting, rest assured that cataract surgery is considered to be a safe and effective procedure. It is also the only way of definitively treating cataracts. 

information about cataracts melbourneAs with the majority of eye surgery operations, cataract surgery is a day procedure. Uncomplicated cataract surgery cases can take as little as 20 minutes per eye. Firstly, the pupil of your eye must be dilated, usually with pharmaceutical eye drops. It will then be numbed with a local or topical anaesthetic to make you more comfortable. On the operating bed, your surgeon then creates an incision in the cornea, the front surface of the eye. This allows other instruments to get to the cataract behind the pupil. Once the membrane bag holding the lens and the cataract is opened, the cataract can then be broken into smaller pieces. These fragments are then removed from the eye, providing the space for an artificial lens implant to be inserted into the membrane bag. 

Depending on the technique your surgeon is using for cataract surgery, he or she may use handheld tools to perform most of the steps. Alternatively, in femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery, a laser instrument can be used to replace all the manual steps. Although the visual outcomes of both techniques are not significantly different, some surgeons will swear by one while others will prefer the other. The use of the femtosecond laser can significantly increase surgery costs, so it is worthwhile doing your research and discussing your options with your surgeon before proceeding. 

 

I Think I Have a Cataract!

If you suspect you are developing a cataract, visit your eye care professional for an examination. This can either be your optometrist or ophthalmologist. Diagnosing a cataract is quite straightforward, and your eye care professional will be able to guide you on the timing for cataract surgery. If you have any further questions about what is a cataract in the eye, they will be best positioned to explain this to you, as well as how your specific cataracts are expected to impact your sight. 

Call us today on (03) 9070 3580.

 

 

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

 

 

References

Cataracts.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353790#:~:text=A%20cataract%20is%20a%20clouding,frosty%20or%20fogged%2Dup%20window.

Cataracts.
https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/cataracts

 

 

 

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What Does Cataract Vision Look Like?

Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in Australia. However, before you see a cataract surgeon, your cataracts first need to be diagnosed. It’s not uncommon for cataracts to be diagnosed during a routine optometrist examination before you’ve even noticed any changes to your sight. This being said, understanding what does cataract vision look like can help you to be on the lookout for symptoms.  

 

What Does Cataract Vision Look Like? 

The symptoms of a cataract can vary from person to person, depending on a few factors, which can affect the answer to what does cataract vision look like for you. One individual may be more sensitive to changes to their sight and therefore be more impacted by an early or mild cataract. The location and size of a cataract will also play a big part in the symptoms one experiences. 

Early or mild cataracts often go unnoticed until you attend a routine optometrist visit. For some people, a cataract can reach the moderate stage and still not be causing any concerns that need to be addressed by a cataract surgeon

As your cataracts develop, these are some signs and symptoms you might slowly become aware of.

 

Reducing contrast sensitivity.

cataract vision look like melbourneThis can be a vague concept to understand. Contrast sensitivity is your ability to discern subtle differences between light and dark details. For example, the typical letter chart used for most vision testing uses bold black letters against a bright white background.

This is a high contrast chart. However, in the real world, not everything we need to see is high contrast. If you’re developing cataracts, you may find you begin to experience increased difficulties in seeing in certain situations.

This can include driving through heavy rain, detecting the edge of a step, or reading in the dim lighting of a restaurant. 

 

Deteriorating clarity of sight.

Many assume that cataracts should cause blurry vision. For some, this is the case. However, many people with cataracts don’t always describe their sight as blurry. Instead, you may think of your sight as more filmy, foggy, cloudy, or hazy. Some describe the sensation as looking through a dirty window or glasses lenses that can’t be cleaned. 

 

Altering colour perception.

One type of age-related cataract known as nuclear sclerosis forms as a yellowish-brown haze to the centre of your lens. The effect of this is to filter certain wavelengths of light as they enter the eye. Although not many people are so attuned to their colour perception, those that are may find the colours of the world around them slowly take on a different hue. The impact of cataracts on your colour perception is more noticeable once you’ve had cataract surgery. You may notice colours suddenly appear much brighter and more vibrant. 

 

Frequently shifting prescription.

As a cataract form, it can change the prescription of your glasses or contact lenses. This shift can go in any direction, depending on the type of cataract. For example, you may find yourself becoming more short-sighted, more long-sighted, or your astigmatism either increases or decreases. If your prescription is changing so often that it becomes financially unviable to keep updating your glasses, your cataract surgeon or optometrist may recommend cataract surgery, even if you feel your sight is okay overall. 

 

Increasing glare sensitivity.

If you find yourself beginning to avoid driving at night time because the glare of oncoming headlights is too debilitating, you may be experiencing increased glare sensitivity from cataracts. Also known as photophobia, this can also manifest in situations such as finding backlit digital screens quite uncomfortable to view, and you need to reduce the screen brightness to see it properly. 

 

When is it Time for Cataract Surgery?

Despite experiencing one or all of the signs and symptoms listed above, it’s most likely not necessary that you need to rush into cataract surgery. Your primary eyecare provider – your optometrist – will be able to assess your cataracts and have a discussion about what does your cataract vision look like and how it’s impacting your daily activities. If you both agree it’s time for cataract surgery, your optometrist or GP can refer you to a cataract surgeon

The point at which cataract surgery is indicated will vary depending on a number of factors. For example, if one of your hobbies is painting, you may find that your inaccurate colour perception is affecting your artwork. If you work as a truck driver doing long overnight trips, your increased glare sensitivity or reduced contrast sensitivity may make it unsafe on the road for you. Conversely, if you’re noticing a decline in your sight but are still functioning quite comfortably, you may choose to defer cataract surgery until your daily activities are more impacted.

Your optometrist will be able to advise you if there are other modifications you can make in the meantime while you wait for your cataract operation. This may include simply adjusting your lighting around the house or workplace, such as using a directed lamp or task lighting when trying to read the fine print. If you find digital screens uncomfortable, turning down the brightness can make them easier to view. If your cataracts are only causing a slow and gradual shift in your prescription, updating your glasses or contact lenses could be a good option for making your vision easier. As your cataracts progress, eventually updating your prescription still won’t be adequate; your optometrist will likely refer you to a cataract surgeon at this point if you haven’t been referred already. 

 

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

 

References

Contrast Sensitivity Testing. 

https://www.allaboutvision.com/en-au/eye-exam/contrast-sensitivity/

Cataracts.

https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/cataracts

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If you’re in your 60s or 70s, you can expect to find yourself developing cataracts. In fact, at this age, it’s not uncommon to have already undergone cataract surgery. Since developing cataracts is just a normal and anticipated part of human ageing, cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the world. However, recognising the signs of a cataract isn’t always as straightforward as you might think. Keep reading to learn about the signs of a cataract

 

Signs of a Cataract

A cataract is a haze or opacity of the lens inside the eye. In a young, healthy eye, this lens is optically transparent so that light can pass through for sharp vision. However, as we age, it gradually loses its clarity, and at some point, we call it a cataract. 

One of the signs of a cataract is exactly as you’d expect – your sight becomes hazy and less clear. You might describe the experience as filmy, cloudy, blurry, or like it feels as if you’re constantly looking through a dirty window or smudged glasses. An early cataract tends not to result in any noticeable deterioration of your clarity of sight. Quite often the first clue that you’re developing cataracts is just from your optometrist mentioning it during a routine eye exam. 

 

 

Other signs of a cataract can include:

  • You need better lighting for reading. Does small print feel like it’s getting smaller? Or does it seem like your eyes get particularly fatigued after trying to read by the light of your dim bedside lamp? One of the effects of a cataract is that your contrast sensitivity deteriorates. This means that your ability to discern fainter details against a background is declining. Bright lighting can help to improve the contrast and make text appear bolder against the page. Other activities you might find becoming more difficult in poor ambient lighting include sewing or navigating uneven ground.
  • You avoid driving at night. While deteriorating contrast vision can influence your confidence when driving at night, increasing glare sensitivity from your developing cataracts will also make things more difficult. The opacities in the lens scatter light particles as they enter the eye, which we then perceive as glare. You may find this increased glare sensitivity makes you particularly uncomfortable when you’re faced with oncoming car headlights on the road. Furthermore, in low light, our pupils dilate, which increases the sensation of glare. Other situations where you may notice yourself squinting include when reading neon or LED signage at night, or when you’re reading off a digital device. The backlit nature of a screen that has been turned up too brightly can also induce glare. 
  • Your glasses or contact lens prescription is shifting rapidly. As a cataract develops, it can change the refractive index of the lens, which alters your prescription. Although some small shift to a prescription is natural even without the presence of cataracts, advancing cataracts can cause your script to change significantly and in a relatively short period of time. This shift can be in any direction – you could become more short-sighted or more long-sighted. You may even develop astigmatism. In many situations, you can improve your vision by simply updating your glasses. However, some people find that their prescription changes so often and so quickly that it becomes too expensive to keep pace with the frequent updates. In this case, cataract surgery is often the better option. 

You can expect these cataract signs to develop very slowly over time. The gradual progression makes it difficult to notice these changes to your vision.

recognising cataract condition melbourneIt’s important to note that the signs of a normal age-related cataract never include pain or sudden loss of vision. There is never a redness or inflammation associated with a typical cataract, nor discharge from the eye. The exception to this is in the rare case of a hypermature cataract – one that has been left unattended for too long.

Uncommonly, a hypermature cataract may suddenly rupture, resulting in an inflammatory reaction inside the eye known as uveitis. Hypermature cataracts are very rarely seen in the Australian healthcare system; they are more commonly found in developing countries due to poor access to eye care and cataract surgery

 

Cataract Surgery

In the early days of your cataract development, it’s usually not necessary to undergo cataract surgery. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will be able to assess your vision and discuss the impact of cataracts on your daily tasks with you. For mild to moderate cataracts, you may be satisfied with making some simple modifications to make your activities easier, rather than going for cataract surgery straightaway. For example, using task lighting for reading, updating your glasses, or reducing the brightness of your computer screen. 

Once you feel that the cataracts are becoming more bothersome, you can ask to be referred for cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is a safe and effective day procedure. It involves the extraction of your cataract, replacing it with a clear implant. This implant is typically calculated to correct your eye’s prescription, meaning you can reduce your dependency on glasses. 

The health of the lens is always assessed during your routine eye tests. Your eye care professional will be able to tell you if you’re developing a cataract. 

Call us now on (03) 9070 3580.

 

 

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

 

 

 

References

Cataracts.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353790

Morgagnian cataract.
https://eyewiki.aao.org/Morgagnian_Cataract

 

 

 

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What Not to Do After Cataract Surgery

After you’ve had your cataracts removed through cataract surgery, what you do during the cataract surgery recovery period can make a difference in how well your eyes heal. However, just as important as what you do, is what you don’t do. Here’s what not to do after cataract surgery

What Not to Do After Cataract Surgery

Following your ophthalmologist’s cataract surgery recovery guidelines is the key to optimising your post-cataract surgery healing and minimising any complications or adverse events during this period. Their advice on what not to do after cataract surgery is aimed at ensuring your body has time to recover, allowing the lens implant to settle in the eye, and avoiding an eye infection. Although your specific post-operative instructions may differ slightly depending on your individual circumstances, these are general rules on what not to do after cataract surgery

Don’t drive too soon.

Even though your vision may be feeling bright and fabulous the day after your cataract surgery (though for some it may not be, depending on your body’s healing response), try to avoid getting behind the wheel before being given the all-clear from your ophthalmologist. There are a few reasons for this. One is that although your sight may feel subjectively sharp, you don’t really know what your visual acuity is until you’ve had it checked. In Australia, there are vision standards for being permitted on our roads. 

Another reason is that your eye may still be feeling glare sensitive after your cataract surgery, which is not an uncommon side effect. The glare off the road or other cars in the sun can be temporarily blinding, while the glare from car headlights or traffic lights at night can also be debilitating, making it dangerous to drive.

 As cataract surgery is typically performed one eye at a time, undergoing the operation in one eye may leave a large prescription difference between your eyes. This is because the artificial lens implant inserted during cataract operation is usually calculated to correct your refractive error. Having a very large prescription difference between the eyes can be disorientating and interfere with your depth perception. 

Don’t stop your eyedrops earlier than advised.

Your cataract surgery recovery will be helped along with the use of a few prescribed eyedrop medications. These will usually be an antibiotic, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, and a steroid drop. The antibiotic is to protect the eye from any opportunistic infections while your body is in a vulnerable state, and the other two drops are to help manage the post-operative inflammation, which is part of the body’s natural response to surgery.

donts after cataract surgery melbourneYour dosing regimen may vary throughout the course of your post-cataract surgery healing, perhaps starting with four times a day for the first couple of weeks and then tapering off for the following weeks.

Stopping these eyedrops earlier than recommended can expose your eye to the risk of a sight-threatening infection or aggressive rebound inflammation, which can prolong your healing process. 

Don’t risk contamination or injury to your eye. 

Not all risks can be foreseen or avoided. However, where possible, it’s a good idea to keep your eyes as protected as possible. For example, if it’s a blustery day outside with debris flying about, hold off on gardening or going for a walk through the park until the weather has calmed down. 

The risk of contamination can also come from some unexpected sources. Unsterile water is known to contain many types of pathogens, including ones that can cause devastating consequences on your eyes and sight if allowed to cause an infection. Avoid swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, and the ocean until given the all-clear by your ophthalmologist. 

Depending on your occupation, you may be okay to return to work within a few days (such as those with more sedentary desk work), while others may need to wait for a week or two. If your job involves risk of trauma to the face, such as the armed forces or contact sports, or brings you into very dirty environments, such as construction or commercial cleaning, you should ensure you’ve taken adequate time off from work. 

Don’t buy new glasses or contact lenses until your prescription is stable.

It usually takes about 4 to 6 weeks for your eyes to stabilise after cataract surgery. During the recovery period, your cornea is still healing from the incisions made during the operation, your eye will still be slightly inflamed, and the lens implant needs time to settle in the membranous bag in which it was inserted. These factors can cause your sight and prescription to shift for the following month or so immediately after your cataract surgery procedure. In addition to this, the temporary post-operative dry eye often experienced after cataract surgery can cause the prescription testing to be variable and unreliable. Because of these factors, it’s wise to hold off on spending money on new glasses or contact lenses until your ophthalmologist is confident that your sight has settled. Once this happens, you’ll most likely be returned to the care of your optometrist for a prescription check. 

Don’t delay if something goes wrong.

If anything doesn’t feel right with your sight or eye after your operation, contact your ophthalmologist immediately. 

 

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

 

References

After Cataract Surgery: A Post-Surgical Guide.

https://visioneyeinstitute.com.au/eyematters/cataract-surgery-post-surgical-guide/

Recovery: Cataract Surgery

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cataract-surgery/recovery/

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How to Prevent Cataracts? 5 Steps To Reduce The Risk

The effect of cataracts is one of the most common vision problems we face as we age. Cataract surgery is performed thousands of times each year in Australia alone, and may be expected to increase in number as our population ages. Whether you’re in your 20s, 40s, or 60s, if you’re not too keen on needing cataract surgery in the future, you may be wondering how to prevent cataracts, and whether it’s even possible. 

 

How to Prevent Cataracts (or at least reduce your risk of needing a cataract surgeon)?

It may not be possible to entirely avoid cataract surgery with certainty. However, there some relatively simple lifestyle modifications you can consider to delay the onset and progression of cataracts, the vision problems that come with them, and your likelihood of needing cataract surgery. Here are 5 steps on how to prevent cataracts

 

 

  1. Minimise UV exposure to your eyes 

The role of ultraviolet radiation in the formation of cataracts is not fully understood. However, experts do know that people who are exposed to greater amounts of UV light tend to require cataract surgery earlier than those who aren’t. For example, populations of people who spend a lot of time outdoors whether for work or play, and those who live in equatorial countries that receive more UV, tend to develop cataracts with a higher prevalence. Therefore, in trying to understand how to prevent cataracts, protecting the eyes from UV exposure often comes first. This can be as simple as wearing a hat and sunglasses when outdoors, especially when the UV index is predicted to be high. UV protection is beneficial not only for reducing the development and progression of cataracts but can also help you avoid other eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and certain eye cancers. 

 

  1. Quit smoking

Your cataract surgeon knows that smoking is positively and directly related with the development of cataracts. This means that the more you smoke, the higher the likelihood that you will develop cataracts. It is also well known that the effects of cigarette smoking extend beyond contributing to vision problems such as cataract and macular degeneration. Quitting smoking will benefit not only your eyesight but your lungs and skin as well. 

 

  1. Avoid eye injuries

Because accidents happen, every time you’re engaging in a high-risk activity, it’s important to wear appropriate eye protection. Although most cataract surgery cases involve age-related cataracts, a smaller percentage of cataracts are caused by trauma, and may need the attention of a specialised cataract surgeon.  Trauma-related cataracts can be due to physical trauma, which includes blunt or penetrating injuries. An example of blunt trauma may be the impact of a squash ball to the eye, while a penetrating eye injury can be from a shard of glass from a broken window, or more commonly, a car accident. Although it’s not always possible or practical to wear eye protection (like when driving a car), if you are involved in any sort of construction work, metalwork, woodwork, or something similar, it’s important to always wear safety glasses with an appropriate safety rating. Eye trauma and resultant cataracts can also arise from chemical causes, so if you work with chemicals, whether in a lab or your own garden, eye protection there is also a good idea. 

 

  1. Reduce alcohol consumption 

Studies have shown that heavy alcohol intake can increase your risk of needing early cataract surgery. Heavy alcohol consumption is defined as more than two standard drinks a day. The association appears to be related to increasing your risk of developing age-related cataracts, possibly through oxidative damage to the lens of your eye, which is where cataracts form. Moderate alcohol consumption was either found to have no significant influence on cataract formation or offered a potential protective effect. 

 

  1. Eat foods high in antioxidants

As oxidative damage to the lens can induce cataract formation, packing your diet with antioxidants may have a protective effect. Specifically, vitamins A, C, and E are potent antioxidants with the potential to delay the onset or progression of age-related cataracts. However, not all studies have found that a certain diet can offer protective effects against cataracts. Since a well-balanced diet is generally beneficial for all aspects of the body, if you wish to increase your intake of antioxidants, among various other fruits and vegetables, consider produce such as capsicum, tomatoes, pecans, walnuts, and kale. 

 

Cataract Surgery

cataract reducing risks melbourneDespite taking all possible measures against developing a cataract, you may eventually still find yourself facing the prospect of a cataract operation. Be reassured that cataract surgery is a safe and effective procedure, with very low rates of complications.

As an added bonus, quite often after a cataract has been removed, people find themselves much less dependent on glasses or contact lenses, particularly for long distance vision. This is because once the cataract has been extracted, an artificial lens is implanted in its place, which is typically calculated to correct for your eye’s prescription.

If you’ve opted for a premium multifocal lens implant, or have organised with your cataract surgeon to have an implant in one eye for distance and the other for near vision, you may not even need glasses for reading. 

Your optometrist or ophthalmologist are the best people to diagnose and help you manage your cataracts. In the early stages, you may not need any surgical intervention as your vision is still quite reasonable. Even as the cataract progresses, you may find that simply updating your glasses or improving your task lighting around the home is enough to let you see comfortably enough. If and when the cataract reaches a stage where your sight is significantly affected, your eyecare professional will discuss cataract surgery with you. 

Call us today on (03) 9070 3580.

 

 

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

 

 

 

References

How Can I Prevent Cataracts?
https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/cataracts/how-can-i-prevent-cataracts

Different Amounts of Alcohol Consumption and Cataract.
https://journals.lww.com/optvissci/fulltext/2015/04000/Different_Amounts_of_Alcohol_Consumption_and.13.aspx

What is a Cataract in the Eye? Understand the Basic of Its Treatment
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How Long Does It Take to Recover from Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery is a very common procedure, making how long does it take to recover from cataract surgery a very common question. To understand more about cataract surgery recovery and what you can do to make the post-operative period as smooth as possible, keep reading. 

 

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery is considered to be a very safe operation with low rates of complications. Depending on your surgeon and type of operation technique, an uneventful cataract operation can take as little as 15 to 20 minutes for each eye. If your cataract surgery went smoothly, and you encounter no bumps or hiccups during your cataract surgery recovery period, most people can expect their vision to be stabilised within 4 to 6 weeks. However, your return to your usual activities may be sooner.

Depending on your vocation, you may feel comfortable returning to work within a few days of your cataract surgery. This will most likely apply to patients who work in more sedentary office jobs. If your occupation involves more intense tasks such as hard labour, heavy lifting, or being exposed to environments with an increased risk of infection or trauma, your ophthalmologist may tell you to take a bit more time off from work. 

 

 

When asking how long does it take to recover from cataract surgery, many patients are also interested in knowing when they can return to driving. This can depend on a few factors and ideally, you would wait until your sight has been checked by your ophthalmologist or optometrist before getting behind the wheel. Before giving you the all-clear to return to driving, your eye care professional will consider your visual acuity (clarity of vision). If your other eye can achieve good vision, it may not matter if your recently-operated eye is still a bit blurry during the early days of your cataract surgery recovery. For private vehicle licensing in Australia, the minimum visual acuity requirements are stated with the two eyes viewing together (binocular vision).

Typically, your binocular visual acuity is at least as good as your better eye. However, some people may feel unbalanced or disoriented if there is a large difference in sight between the eyes as a result of one having had cataract surgery. Having a large discrepancy in sight can also affect your depth perception, making driving dangerous. If your ophthalmologist anticipated that undergoing cataract surgery on one eye was likely to result in an unacceptably large prescription difference between the eyes, you may have already discussed the possibility of operating on the other side to balance the sight, even if the cataracts are not significant. In this case, it is best to wait until you are comfortable with your sight before getting behind the wheel. 

It is not uncommon to experience some degree of discomfort around the eyes immediately after your cataract surgery. In studies conducted about post-operative pain, the researchers acknowledged that the concept of pain is quite subjective, and even experiences like grittiness or dryness of the eyes might be reported by patients as pain. Typically, pain is anticipated to resolve within the week. For more vague symptoms of general ocular discomfort or glare sensitivity, studies have reported they may take some more time to recover, sometimes a matter of months. 

 

Cataract Surgery Recovery Tips

Although there’s no way to 100% guarantee that you’ll run into no issues during your recovery, there are some steps you can take to minimise your risk of an adverse event occurring after removing your cataracts. After your operation, your ophthalmologist will provide you with a list of instructions for the post-operative period. Always follow these specific care instructions; they may vary from specialist to specialist, and may be different depending on your particular circumstances.

Here are some general guidelines for optimising your post-cataract surgery recovery.

  1. Use your eye drops to the end. 

surgery eye cataract recovery melbourneAfter your cataract procedure, you’ll be prescribed 2 to 3 eyedrop medications. These are usually an antibiotic, a steroid, and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID). The antibiotic is used as a preventative measure, to minimise your risk of encountering an infection until you have fully healed. The steroid and NSAID are to help control the inflammation that occurs as a natural response after your surgery. Though it may be tempting to stop the drops as soon as your eye feels better, it’s important to complete the course of medications as prescribed, which is typically for 4 weeks. 

  1. Avoid any contaminants or foreign substances near the eye.

Your eyedrop medications are an exemption, of course. Dirt, dust, and debris are obvious contaminants you want to avoid getting into your eye. However, swimming pools, seawater, spas and saunas, can also be sources of eye infections as the water is unsterile. As your eye is healing, you will also want to keep cosmetics, lotions, soaps, and aerosols away from your eye as much as possible. 

  1. Don’t delay if something doesn’t feel right.

Although it’s anticipated to experience some sort of discomfort around the eyes in the days to weeks following cataract surgery as previously mentioned, you should expect your eye to slowly but continuously improve. If your eye begins to deteriorate in terms of pain, redness, or sight, or start to produce discharge, contact your ophthalmologist immediately.

 

Call us now on (03) 9070 3580 for a consultation.

 

 

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

 

 

 

References

What To Expect During Cataract Surgery Recovery.
https://www.healthline.com/health/eye-health/cataract-surgery-recovery

Recovery After Cataract Surgery.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/aos.13055

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Is Cataract Surgery Painful?

Pain can be a subjective experience. Ask one person who just got an immunisation injection and they may say they felt nothing at all, yet the next person getting the same jab by the same nurse found it a very painful procedure. Procedures in eye care are no different. If you’re contemplating undergoing cataract surgery, you may have been told some horror stories by friends or family who had a bad experience. Is cataract surgery painful and is it something you should be afraid of? 

What Happens During Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is performed exceedingly often in the developed world. This is due to cataracts being considered part of the natural human ageing process. It is found less commonly in developing countries not due to a lower incidence of cataracts but because of poorer accessibility to trained doctors and eye care facilities. 

During cataract surgery, the pupil of the eye is dilated, or widened, with eye drops. This allows the cataract surgeon to access the cataract behind the iris. Your eye is also numbed with topical anaesthetic eye drops or a local anaesthetic injection, and many surgeons will provide a light sedative to help you relax. 

The removal of the cataract involves a few steps, including a small incision made through the cornea, which is the clear dome of tissue at the front of the eye. This incision is typically created near the edge of the cornea and may be performed with either a manual blade as in conventional cataract surgery or with a computer-guided femtosecond laser. This corneal incision then allows the cataract surgeon to insert various tools into the eye to work on the cataract, including opening the membrane containing the cataract, breaking the cataract into smaller fragments, and then suctioning these pieces out from the eye. An artificial lens implant, called an intraocular lens, is then inserted into the membrane through the corneal incision. 

All these invasive steps as part of a routine cataract operation may leave you questioning, “is cataract surgery painful?” 

Is Cataract Surgery Painful During the Operation?

All eye care professionals will reassure you that cataract surgery is generally considered a painless procedure. However, as previously mentioned, the perception of pain and discomfort can be subjective. If you’re leading up to a cataract operation yourself, it’s important to know that the experience of pain doesn’t mean that something has gone wrong. For example, some people find that dilating eye drops can be painful while others have no issue at all. For those who do notice any discomfort, this experience can range from a mild sting to a significant burning sensation. 

There is a lot of research dedicated to reducing pain and discomfort for patients during cataract surgery, such as the type, dosage, and timing of anaesthetic. There are also preventative steps your cataract surgeon can take to minimise the risk of causing any discomfort that may occur during the operation, some of which may be as simple as ensuring the adhesive of the sterile drapes used to cover the skin around the eye is not roughly ripped off after the procedure. 

cataract surgery treatment pain melbourneSome patients may have a heightened pain response, which can make eye care procedures more uncomfortable. People with anxiety who are on oral anti-anxiety medications may be more sensitised to the sensation of pain. 

Cataract surgeons will typically administer a light intravenous sedative in preparation for the surgery. For some people who are particularly anxious, the dosage may need to be increased or the surgeon may need to use a stronger sedative.

However, very rarely are heavy sedatives used as the cataract operation is more successful and less risky if you are kept awake. Despite this, the light sedation tends to be enough for most people to largely be unable to recall the procedure afterwards. 

 

Is Cataract Surgery Painful Post-Operatively? 

It is not uncommon for patients to feel some degree of discomfort after a cataract operation though this isn’t often reported as significant pain. One of the most common sources of post-operative discomfort after a cataract procedure is dry eye. As the operation involves disrupting the corneal nerves, post-operatively, the eye may be temporarily impaired in tear production, leading to a dehydrated corneal surface. Experiences of people with dry eye, including those not induced by cataract surgery, can range from mild irritation of the eye to severe, debilitating pain. Fortunately, there are ways to help alleviate dry eyes, such as artificial tears or medicated eye drops. 

Prolonged eye inflammation is another potential source of pain or discomfort, and is part of your body’s natural healing response to the surgery. Your eye surgeon will have given you a prescription for anti-inflammatory medications to use in the postoperative period, including a steroid eye drop and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. It’s important to use these medications as frequently and for as long as you’ve been instructed. 

Some people experience glare in the weeks after having their cataracts removed. This is entirely normal but can be a source of discomfort for some. Over time, your glare sensitivity will settle. 

If you are particularly anxious about pain during cataract surgery, discuss your concerns with your cataract surgeon as they may be able to offer you reassurance and strategies to reduce your anxiety. 

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

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Post Cataract Surgery Care

All surgical procedures come with a recovery period. Depending on the type of surgery and your own body’s healing response, the post-operative period can be long or short, complicated or smooth. Cataract surgery is considered to be a safe and effective procedure with very low rates of complications. However, it is possible to further minimise your risk of complications by adhering to certain post-cataract surgery care guidelines. Read about how to make your cataract surgery recovery as uneventful as possible. 

 

Do I Need Cataract Surgery?

Prior to going under the metaphorical knife, you want to be sure that the timing for cataract surgery is right and that it’s a necessary procedure. It is sensible to be guided by your trusted eyecare professional, whether ophthalmologist or optometrist, however, here are a few things for you to consider. 

Can you see what you need to be able to see, as comfortably as you’d like to see it?  One of the main factors that guide the recommendation for surgery is a patient’s visual demands. A person’s daily requirements of their vision will vary widely from one individual to another. For example, a taxi driver who often works at night-time will be more affected by the glare of headlights caused by a cataract compared to an accountant. The point where you feel your vision is no longer adequate for your usual activities is typically when you may decide to pursue extraction of your cataract. If you’ve been told you have a cataract developing but are still content with your vision, there’s no need to rush into surgery.

 

post cataract surgery melbourneDo you meet the vision requirements to hold a driver’s licence in your state? In Australia, the general minimum vision requirement is 6/12 vision with your two eyes together. As this number may not mean much to you, it’s important to keep up with regular visits to your optometrist if you have a cataract to ensure your vision doesn’t drop below this level.

Your optometrist will be able to tell you if your vision is approaching the minimum visual acuity to be able to keep your licence.

 

Even if you’re content with your vision as it relates to your daily activities, if you are unable to read the 6/12 line on the letter chart due to cataracts, your eye care professional will advise you to undergo surgery. 

Are you going via the private or public health system? Waitlist times tend to be much longer in the public health system compared to private. If you are unable to afford surgery with a private specialist, and your cataract has been progressing, you may consider putting your name onto the public waiting list sooner rather than later. 

 

Post Cataract Surgery Care

If you’ve decided that it’s time for cataract surgery, it pays to know these cataract surgery recovery tips. Post cataract surgery care is not complex, but following your cataract surgeon’s instructions can help to minimise your risk of complications occurring during the cataract surgery recovery period

Use all your prescription eye drops as directed.

Your surgeon will give you a prescription for an antibiotic and one or two anti-inflammatory drops. You will need to use all of these medications several times a day for about 4 weeks. It’s important to keep using the eye drops until the end of the course even if you think your eye is better. Stopping the drops too early can put your eye at risk of catching an infection or sparking new inflammation. 

Don’t let anything contaminate your eye.

Although this is a good idea even when you’re not needing to think about post-cataract surgery care, it’s especially important as your eye is healing from a cataract procedure. Contaminants like dirt and dust are easy to think of, such as avoiding the attic of your house or the garden on a windy, dusty day. However, there are also other sources of potential infection that may not come to mind so quickly, such as swimming pools and saunas. Unsterile sources of water contain a multitude of pathogens that can readily infect an eye vulnerable from recent cataract surgery. During the early days of your cataract surgery recovery, you will also want to avoid any cosmetics, skin products, soaps, and aerosols around your eye. 

Seek attention if anything feels not right.

Immediately after your cataract surgery, you can expect your eye to be red, gritty, and slightly blurry. In some cases, it can take a few weeks for the eye to feel more comfortable and some people experience persistent dryness after having a cataract operation. Your vision may also take some weeks to stabilise completely; typically it can take up to 4 to 6 weeks. However, if you experience any of the following, it’s important to contact your cataract surgeon as soon as possible. 

  • An increasingly red eye
  • Increasing eye pain
  • A mucous or pus discharge from the eye
  • Deteriorating vision
  • Unexpected visual symptoms, such as haloes around lights or gaps in your visual field
  • Flashing lights in the vision or new floaters
  • Headaches and nausea

If you’re unable to get hold of your cataract surgeon, go to your local optometrist or hospital emergency department.  

Throughout your recovery process, your cataract surgeon will conduct two or three routine review appointments. When he or she observes that your eye has healed as expected and your vision has settled, you will be referred back to your optometrist to recheck your prescription and for ongoing care. 

 

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

What Not to Do After Cataract Surgery
what not to do after cataract surgery melbourne

After you’ve had your cataracts removed through cataract surgery, what you do during the cataract surgery recovery period can make a difference in how well Read more

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is cataract surgery painful melbourne

Pain can be a subjective experience. Ask one person who just got an immunisation injection and they may say they felt nothing at all, yet Read more

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The effect of cataracts is one of the most common vision problems we face as we age. Cataract surgery is performed thousands of times each Read more

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Cataract surgery is a very common procedure, making how long does it take to recover from cataract surgery a very common question. To understand more Read more

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What Do Cataracts Look Like? Discover If You Need Cataract Surgery

As cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed operations in the world, it is likely you’ve heard of cataracts before. Despite their ubiquitous nature, many people are unfamiliar with how cataracts are detected. If you’re wondering what do cataracts look like and whether you might have one that needs cataract surgery, keep reading. 

 

What Do Cataracts Look Like?

If you’re looking at yourself in a mirror, you’re not likely to notice anything different about your eyes. A cataract forms behind the coloured iris, making it difficult to see through a normal pupil (the aperture in the middle of your iris) without the appropriate equipment. However, in some cases, you may be able to catch a glimpse of a whitish glint in the pupil of another person with cataract if you’re looking at the right angle. This is a clinical sign known as leukocoria, which refers to a white pupil. As a side note, leukocoria may also be a sign of other eye conditions, including retinal cancer or a lazy eye in children, and so should never be ignored. 

 

 

You’re more likely to suspect you have a cataract from its associated visual symptoms. What do cataracts look like in your vision? The symptoms of a cataract can vary from individual to individual and can depend on the density and location of the cataract opacity. You may experience symptoms such as:

  • Deteriorating visual clarity. Although blurry vision is a common effect of cataract, not everyone will identify their vision as blurry. Instead, common descriptors for the vision experienced through a cataract include hazy, filmy, or cloudy. Some individuals may feel as though they’re looking through a dirty window or permanently smudged glasses lenses. This can translate to difficulty in recognising faces from down the street or reading the fine print on ingredient labels or medications. 
  • Increasing glare sensitivity. As the opacity of a cataract scatters light entering the eye, our eye perceives this as glare or dazzle. Depending on the location of the cataract within the lens, glare sensitivity can range from a mild irritation to debilitating glare that prevents a person from performing their usual activities. You may find oncoming car headlights to be overly dazzling or you need to reduce the brightness of your screen to view it more comfortably.
  • Decreasing contrast sensitivity. Another effect of a growing cataract is that your ability to discern differences in contrast is impaired. This can mean reading coloured text against a coloured background is increasingly difficult, or you need much brighter lighting to read any text clearly compared to several years ago. Some people may also find they have disproportionate difficulty seeing the road or cars ahead when visibility conditions are low, such as during foggy mornings or heavy rain. 

Other signs that might alert you to the presence of a cataract is a change to your colour vision or frequent prescription changes to your glasses or contact lenses. It’s important to note that none of these symptoms is unique to cataracts, and can potentially indicate other eye conditions that aren’t treatable with cataract surgery. If you’re ever concerned about your eyes or the state of your sight, see your optometrist or ophthalmologist. 

 

What Do Cataracts Look Like to An Eyecare Professional?  

Cataracts are diagnosed with an optometrist or ophthalmologist. In many cases, cataracts are detected during a routine exam, even before you notice any changes to your vision. After conducting an examination, your eyecare professional will be able to discuss their advice around cataract surgery

cataract eye condition information melbourneYour optometrist or ophthalmologist will use a few tests to diagnose a cataract. They will typically start with taking the history of your visual symptoms if you have any. Cataracts are known to be relatively slow-growing, so if you report waking up with sudden vision deterioration, your eyecare professional will know it’s not due to a cataract. It’s also important for your optometrist or ophthalmologist to get an idea of how the cataract might be impacting your daily activities and lifestyle as this may guide their recommendation around the timing of cataract surgery. For example, if you enjoy birdwatching, an early cataract is likely going to bother you at a much earlier stage compared to someone who just prefers to watch TV. Or if you’re a painter and rely on accurate colour vision, your cataracts will be more problematic and are more likely to require early cataract surgery compared to someone whose colour perception has no bearing on their usual tasks. 

Your eyecare practitioner will be able to examine your cataracts directly with an instrument called a slit lamp, which is comprised of a light source and magnification system that allows your optometrist or ophthalmologist to view various structures of the eye. Behind a slit lamp, your clinician will be able to see the density and location of the cataract. 

Age-related cataracts fall into three general categories, but often you may have more than one type at the same time. Nuclear sclerosis appears as a yellow-brown haze in the core of the lens while anterior cortical cataracts appear as greyish spokes radiating from the edge of the lens inwards. Through a slit lamp, a posterior subcapsular cataract looks like a dense white plaque on the back surface of the lens.

In order to appropriately advise you on the timing of cataract surgery, your eyecare professional will also test your visual acuity, which involves reading black letters of decreasing size against a white background. Even though you may not reach the standard “20/20 vision”, it doesn’t mean you necessarily require immediate cataract surgery, especially if you are still content with your vision. Speak to your eyecare professional on (03) 9070 3580 if you are concerned. 

 

 

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

What is a Cataract in the Eye? Understand the Basic of Its Treatment
what is a cataract in the eye melbourne

What is a cataract in the eye? Considering that cataract surgery is the most commonly performed eye surgery in the world, it’s most likely that you’ve Read more

What Does Cataract Vision Look Like?
what does cataract vision look like melbourne

Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in Australia. However, before you see a cataract surgeon, your cataracts first need to Read more

Signs of Cataract – Discover How to Recognise the Condition
signs of cataract melbourne

If you’re in your 60s or 70s, you can expect to find yourself developing cataracts. In fact, at this age, it’s not uncommon to have Read more

What Not to Do After Cataract Surgery
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After you’ve had your cataracts removed through cataract surgery, what you do during the cataract surgery recovery period can make a difference in how well Read more