Cataract eye surgery is the most frequently requested and safest vision-correcting procedure currently available. Unfortunately, many inaccurate and scary misconceptions surround the condition and its treatment. To help you make better informed decisions regarding your ocular health, we’ve compiled a list of five common cataract myths.
1. A cataract is a cloudy film over the eye.
Not true. Everyone has a transparent lens behind their iris, which is the coloured part of the eye. Over time, this clear layer ages, hardening the protein fibres found here and clouding or blurring your vision. Therefore, during cataract removal procedures, the entire distorted lens is removed and replaced by an artificial intraocular substitute.
2. Only old people get cataracts.
Although the condition is related to aging, it’s not exclusively found in adults over 65 years of age. It can even occur in babies. What causes eye cataracts is a protein build-up on the crystalline lens between your iris and retina. This can stem from:
- A natural and progressive drying of the layer
- Prenatal infections
- Eye injuries
- Chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
- Long-term bad habits, including smoking, drug abuse and unprotected sun exposure
3. Cataracts need to mature before surgery.
Before technological advances improved refractive eye surgeries, large incisions were made to manually remove cataracts. In these instances, patients were encouraged to let the cloudy part grow, so most of it could be extracted in one go.
These days, state-of-the-art microscopes and lasers mean that cataracts can be removed at any stage during their development. In fact, the earlier they are resolved, the better your results and more minimal the potential for complications.
4. Cataract surgeries are dangerous.
While delicate to perform, skilled ophthalmologist have made cataract treatment one of the safest and most successful eye procedures currently offered. Millions of people per year and from around the world have these surgeries done. What’s more, it has a nearly 100% success rate.
Before your operation, an ophthalmologist will measure your eye to determine the best artificial intraocular lens (IOL) needed to replace your natural, clouded one. The removal and IOL fitting is so painless, doctors only use a topical anaesthetic (eye drops) to numb the surgical site. Patients are allowed to go home on the same day as their treatment.
5. Your vision will be and stay perfect after treatment.
After the cataracts on your eyes have been removed, the majority of patients experience improved sight when going about their regular activities. However, not everyone will be able to discard their spectacles. Whether you’ll need to wear glasses after surgery depends on the type of intraocular lens you chose to insert.
While 20% of patients may develop posterior capsular sclerosis at some point after cataract surgery, this progressive dimming of vision is easily rectified with a YAG laser. The procedure only takes a few minutes in the consulting rooms and your eyesight is immediately restored.
If your vision is cloudy, blurry or become gradually impaired, make an appointment at a clinic near you. A highly trained doctor should be more than able to evaluate your vision, recommend the appropriate course of treatment and answer any further questions you may have. Most patients find their sight improves within as little as a day or two after cataract treatment. You could be one of them.