A cataract is a common condition that is a clouding of the eye's natural lens and affects a majority of Australians over the age of 65. Cloudiness develops as a result of a buildup of protein in the lens.
Cataracts cause a progressive and painless loss of vision. Cataracts require prompt medical attention to prevent loss of quality of vision. The exact cause of cataracts is unknown, although it may be a result of injury, certain medications, illnesses (such as diabetes), prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light and smoking.
Dr Kumar offers both laser assisted cataract surgery and manual small incision cataract surgery. He was honoured to be amongst the first surgeons in Australia to provide laser assisted cataract surgery.
A series of tests are performed in order to diagnose a cataract. A dilated eye exam will be performed to examine the condition of the lens and other parts of the eye. The office may also perform biometry, a procedure that measures the length of the eye.
Symptoms of Cataracts
Patients with cataracts often do not experience any symptoms when the condition first develops. Cataracts will continue to progress with no apparent pain, although patients may experience:
- Blurred or hazy vision
- Double vision
- Poor vision in bright light
- Seeing halos around lights
- Poor vision at night and difficulty driving
- Yellowish tinged vision
- Frequent changes in eyeglasses or contact lens prescription
Treatment of Cataracts
If visual impairment begins to interfere with your ability to read, work or do the things you enjoy, you may want to consider cataract surgery to restore your vision. Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the world, and can be performed quickly and easily with a success rate of over 99 percent and a minimal risk of complications.
Cataract surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that involves numbing the eyes with anesthesia and then making a tiny incision into which an ultrasonic probe is inserted. The probe breaks up, or emulsifies, the cloudy lens into tiny pieces and then suctions them out of the eye. Once the cloudy lens has been removed, a new artificial lens is implanted into the eye. This lens is known as an intraocular lens (IOL), and is inserted through the same incision that the old lens was removed from.
Surgery usually takes only a few minutes to perform and is painless for most patients. After the procedure, a patch may be placed over the eye and you will be asked to rest for a while. Patients can return home the very same day, but will need someone to drive them home. For the next few days, you may experience itching, mild discomfort, fluid discharge and sensitivity to light and touch. Dr. Kumar will prescribe eye drops to help the healing process and to reduce the risk of infection.
There are several different IOLs available to help each patient achieve the best possible results from his/her cataract surgery. Dr. Kumar will discuss the choices available to you and will match the intraocular lens used with your individual circumstances. Presbyopia correcting IOLs allow for full vision correction at near, intermediate and far distances and may eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses in most patients. IOLs can also correct astigmatism.
Intraocular lenses are used to correct vision problems during cataract surgery by replacing the old, damaged lens with an artificial lens that clears up and corrects vision, often leaving patients with little to no dependence on glasses. While cataract surgery corrects cloudy lenses, it still leaves patients with astigmatism with distorted vision. Toric IOLs are specially designed to correct astigmatism along with overall vision during cataract surgery, offering complete vision correction.
Before Toric IOLs, people with astigmatism would need to undergo corneal refractive surgery after their lenses were implanted, or would remain dependent on glasses or contact lenses. The advanced Toric IOLs correct the imbalance caused by an irregular cornea shape in patients with astigmatism.
The risks of a Toric IOL include poor vision as a result of the lens rotating out of position, although this risk exists with any type of intraocular lens. Toric IOLs are considered safe for most patients with astigmatism and are the only solution to correct vision problems associated with both cataracts and astigmatism. Talk to Dr Kumar to learn more about these lenses and find out if you can enjoy the benefits of Toric IOLs.
Femtosecond Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery
A recent development in cataract surgery is the use of a femtosecond laser to prepare the eye for surgery. Theoretical advantages include precisely constructed wounds, a more reproducible prescription outcome after surgery and less energy used to remove the cataract. Dr Kumar has extensive training in femtosecond laser assisted ophthalmic surgery and was amongst the first surgeons to use this technology in Australia. Should this option be of interest to you, discuss the alternatives and potential benefits with us.
Risks and Complications
If left untreated, cataracts will worsen over time and may lead to significant vision loss and reduced quality of life. It is important to see your physician regularly in order to detect cataract development and to plan an effective treatment method.
Although cataract surgery is considered safe, there are risks associated with any surgery. At the time of your appointment these will be discussed with you. The vast majority of patients undergo this procedure without any complications.
To learn more about our Cataract Services, please contact us today to schedule an appointment.