Cataract is the number one worldwide cause of visual loss and blindness.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye. The eye is analogous to a camera and the crystalline lens is normally clear and transparent. A cataract results when the lens becomes cloudy due to opacification of lens proteins. The lens initially becomes yellow, then brown, then white or even black resulting in loss of vision, eventually leading to blindness. Initial symptoms include glare, difficulty driving at night and inability to thread a needle. Glasses may improve vision initially. However, vision continues to deteriorate with patients complaining of blurred vision like “looking through a dirty windscreen”. Eventually blindness ensues. Cataracts are caused by age, diabetes, hereditary predisposition, trauma, sunlight, radiation, smoking and certain medications such as prednisone. Loss of vision from cataract results in reduced quality of life, loss of driving licence and is associated with an increased incidence of falls in the elderly and worsening of dementia.
The treatment of cataracts is surgical. Cataract surgical has evolved in recent years to now be minimally invasive and relatively safe with minimal downtime. The cataract is removed with keyhole surgery and replaced with a clear, transparent intraocular lens allowing light to enter the eye, restoring vision. No stiches are required. Cataract surgery is a day surgery procedure requiring 2-3 hours in hospital. Local anaesthetic with sedation is used such that the patient is asleep during the operation with no relocation of the procedure and no pain. Virtually all patients are fit for the procedure as there is no general anaesthetic and no risk to health therefore age is no barrier to surgery. Blood thinning medication such as aspirin and warfarin are not ceased. All surgery has risk and the risk of complications with cataract surgery is low with a 99% success rate. Most patients are able to drive within 2 days with minimal post-operative pain and are back to work within 3-4 days. Restoration of vision is permanent and lifelong as cataracts do not grow back. Patients enjoy clear vision and improved quality of life with reduced spectacle independence. Many patients do not require glasses after cataract surgery and some patients are eligible for diffractive intraocular lenses which provide both distance and near vision without glasses. Because the procedure is so successful, it is routinely performed in younger patients who are not eligible for laser vision correction with minimal or no cataract as a refractive procedure in order to get rid of glasses.
Liverpool Day Surgery (LDS) is the leading centre for cataract surgery in South Western Sydney. LDS is well known for attracting the best and most qualified nursing staff who are caring, professional and treat every patient as an individual. Technological advances in cataract surgery are frequent and LDS has the best equipment for cataract surgery after recent purchases of state of the art equipment.
Dr Alman Ogane is the Head of Ophthalmic Surgery at Liverpool Day Surgery. To arrange an appointment with Dr Ogane please contact 02 4655 6625.
Cataract Surgery in Australia, Clinical Experimental Ophthalmology 2004 Aug; 32(4):388-92. CK Pager et al.