A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens of the eye. When being young, the natural lens is clear and flexible. But, when growing older, it gets clouded and hard, which gradually decreases the visual acuity. Because a cataract is insidious, it is often not detected. Problems with vision are often noticed at the age of 60 or older.
Most people affected by cataract can read well, often even without glasses because a clouding at the center of the lens of the eye mainly disturbs farsightedness. However, patients need stronger glasses in the course of time to compensate for their nearsightedness. Sometimes, vision at dusk can be better than during the day, and patients are sensitive to light and glare. The vision can generally be blurry or distorted, and things appear to be seen through milk glass or fog. Colors can fade, and double vision may occur.
Age is the most common cause of cataracts because metabolic deposits in the lens increase. In addition to age, the following factors play a role in cataract development:
- malformations; damage of the unborn child during the first trimester— especially caused by X-radiation or viruses like rubella (German measles), chickenpox or mumps
- general diseases–diabetes mellitus, tetany as well as certain skin and muscle diseases
- eye disorders/diseases and injuries
The diagnosis “cataract” is often made after examining the eye with a slit lamp and a microscope.
Cataracts cannot be treated by medication. In order to preserve vision, the only option is cataract surgery. During this kind of surgery, the clouded lens is removed and replaced by an artificial lens.
A cataract cannot be cured by eye drops, medication or optical aids. In order to preserve vision and independence, a so-called cataract surgery is necessary. During this procedure, the natural lens is replaced by an artificial lens (intraocular lens, IOL).
Choosing the artificial lens—standard and premium lenses
There are different lenses to choose from prior to cataract surgery. Modern methods of measurement and new lens models with a special optical design make it possible to grant optimal surgical results as well as to consider patients´ wishes in terms of comfort and visual acuity. So-called premium lenses enable patients to mostly stop wearing glasses. The right choice of lens is discussed in detail based on different individual measurements.
When is cataract surgery necessary?
Cataract surgery is necessary if patients feel impaired by the cataract.
How is cataract surgery performed?
Cataract surgery is a painless outpatient treatment, which can be performed using local or general anesthetics. Preparations and follow-ups included, cataract surgery only takes about 2 hours.
A 2.2mm (0.088in.) incision is enough to reach the lens, which is destructed by ultrasound and removed subsequently. The natural lens is replaced by an artificial lens. The initial small incision closes itself so that it has not be sutured. A bandage protects the eye after cataract surgery.
Advantages cataract surgery
The rate of success of cataract surgery amounts 99%.
After cataract surgery
After cataract surgery, a local infusion therapy (antibiotics + cortisone) is necessary for 3-4 weeks. Depending on individual recovery, you are not able to work for 1-2 weeks.
After cataract surgery, please abide by the following instructions and keep the following information in mind:
- Blurred or double vision, even a few days after surgery, is a normal, temporary effect of cataract surgery.
- Please avoid rubbing or putting pressure on the eyes within the first 4-6 weeks after surgery.
- Taking a shower or bath as well as washing the hair is possible without any problems. Please keep in mind that your eyes should not come in contact with water, soap or shampoo.
- Please avoid taxing physical activities, swimming and sunbathing the first 2 weeks after surgery.
- No further physical restrictions are necessary 2 weeks after surgery.
- Please ask us if you have questions about sports or other activities.
- Unsettled sleepers should wear the eyepatch we provide you with in the first week after surgery.
- Diabetics should check their blood sugar levels carefully before and after surgery. Please talk to your general practitioner about this matter.
- You can read, write and watch TV after surgery. However, please do not stress your eyes too much, but take a break every now and then.
- It is possible that you are more sensitive to bright light after surgery. But this is only a short-term temporary side effect.
- The same holds for a temporary itching or foreign body sensation.
- In case of a persisting pain of the operated eye or a decrease of vision, please contact your ophthalmologist immediately to make an appointment.