OPHTHALMIC EDUCATION (1) Understanding CATARACT [Archives:2000/19/Health]

May 8 2000

By Dr. Mohfoud Bamashmous
What is Cataract?
A cataract is clouding of a part of the eye called the lens. The vision becomes blurred or dim because light cannot pass through the clouded lens to the back of the eye. Over half of those over 65 have some cataract development and most cases can be treated successfully with surgery.

The lens:
The lens is a transparent body behind the iris, the colored part of the eye. The lens bends light rays so that they give a clear image to the back of the eye – the retina.

What causes a cataract?
Cataract can form at any age, but most often it develops as people get older. In younger people they can result from an injury, certain drugs, long-standing inflammation or illness such as diabetes.

Some symptoms:
“I can not see as well as I used to”.
What can be done to help?
The most effective treatment for cataracts is an operation to remove the cloudy lens and replacing it with a plastic intraocular lens implant.

What is an intraocular lens implant?
After removing the cloudy lens surgically, it is usually replaced by a plastic lens so that the eye can focus properly. Occasionally a doctor will decide whether someone’s eye is suitable for a lens implant. In these cases not suitable for implant special glasses are prescribed instead.

When should the cataract operation be done?
Usually the patient decides when he or she wants to have the operation. In the past, eye specialists often waited until the cataract became ‘ripe’ before suggesting it to be removed. Nowadays, with modern surgery the operation can be carried out at any stage of the cataract’s development. If visual impairment interferes with the patient’s ability to read, to work, or to do the things they enjoy, then they would probably have to consider surgery.

What happens after the operation?
The patient’s sight usually improves within a few days, although complete healing may take two months.

Routine eye exam by an eye specialist is very important.
It is your sight and your eyes need every care they deserve.

Mahfouth A Bamashmus FRCSEd, FRCOphth
Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
Ibn Al-Haitham Clinic
University of Science & Technology, Sana’a