Cataracts

Cataracts are an eye disease that causes the lens of the eye to become cloudy. It makes you worse eyesight. It varies how long it takes before the vision becomes poor. For some it takes a few months, for others several years. Cataracts are treated with an operation. Everyone who gets cataracts does not need surgery.

During an operation, your lens is replaced by an artificial lens. Cataracts are also called cataracts.

Symptoms of cataracts

It is common for you to have vision problems if you have cataracts and your lens has become cloudy. For example, you may have one or more of the following symptoms of cataracts:

  • You look worse and blurry.
  • You have a hard time seeing in the dark and need more light.
  • Colors become fainter and more yellowish brown.
  • You blend easily and are sensitive to bright white light, such as fluorescent light.
  • Contours become weaker.
  • You can see double contours.

When and where should I seek care?

If you think you have cataracts, contact an optometrist or health care provider. There you can get a referral to an ophthalmologist if you need it.

It is good to check the eyes of an optician every five years after you turn 40. Then cataracts and some other eye diseases can be detected early.

Investigation

To find out if you have cataracts, the doctor does an  eye exam. 

Your vision is being examined

First, your vision is examined by looking at a syntax with letters. The doctor assesses your vision based on how small letters you can see.

The eye lens is examined with an eye microscope

Then the lens of the eye is examined with the aid of an eye microscope. The eye microscope stands on a table that can be raised and lowered.

You usually get eye drops that dilate the pupil before you are examined. This is because some parts of the eye can be difficult to examine with a normal sized pupil, such as the lens.

During the examination, you sit on one side of the eye microscope with your chin and forehead against a support. It makes the head and eyes completely still. On the other side of the microscope, the doctor sits and examines the eye with the help of magnifying lenses.

The light from the eye microscope is quite bright, but the examination is not unpleasant in general, and only takes a few minutes.

With the eye microscope, the doctor can see if your lens is cloudy, even if you have not noticed it yourself. They also examine the retina to see if there are any other causes for your visual impairment. For example, there may be  age changes in the yellow spot.

After the examination, you should avoid driving the nearest 24 hours

The eye drops that enlarge the pupil can make you temporarily look worse up to a day after the examination. In the meantime, avoid activities where it is important to have good eyesight, such as driving a car.

It can also be nice to bring sunglasses as you can be dazzled by strong sunlight for up to a day after the examination.

Treatment of cataracts

Cataracts are treated with surgery when the cloudy lens is replaced. But everyone who gets cataracts does not need surgery. This is because the deterioration often goes so slowly that the hassles do not become so great that they interfere with everyday life.

Together with the doctor you decide if the problems are so large that you need surgery. If you find that it is a good alternative, you will receive a referral to an ophthalmologist performing the surgery.

Before the operation

The eye is examined again before the operation. Then, for example, the length of the eye is measured with the help of laser or ultrasound. After that, a computer calculates what strength the new artificial lens should have.

You get local anesthesia in the eye

During the operation, you receive local anesthesia with eye drops. You also get eye drops that dilate the pupil. You can have sedatives if you feel anxious about the operation.

Then the operation goes on

You are in a special chair during the operation. The chair is similar to that used by dentists. Before the operation, the skin is washed around the eye and the eye is rinsed thoroughly. You get a thin cloth over the face and a special holder that keeps the eye open during surgery.

The doctor makes a small incision at the edge of the cornea. Then your lens is disrupted using ultrasound and removed. The new artificial lens is then put in place. During the operation, the eye is constantly flushed with fluid. The incision made by the doctor in the cornea heals by itself.

It is quite bright light during surgery, but it does not hurt. The operation takes about ten to twenty minutes, sometimes it may take a little longer.

After the treatment

It is common for the eye to scrub up to one to two weeks after the operation. The eye can also be a little red. The vision may be a little hazy and you may experience colors that are more blue the first time after surgery.

Protect the eye from dirt and pressure

Do not press, rub in the eye or get dirt in the eye after surgery.

You need to take eye drops

The next few weeks after the surgery, you will receive  eye drops . You take the eye drops yourself. They contain cortisone or another anti-inflammatory substance and should prevent inflammation of the eye after surgery. Some may need help taking the eye drops. If you think this is so for you, you can prepare this by asking someone close to you for help or talking to a district nurse at the health center.

You get to try out new glasses

A few weeks after the surgery, you need to try out new glasses. You may need glasses to see from afar, up close, or both. The doctor will assess when you can try out glasses.

New survey

You often get a time for a return visit a week after the surgery. Sometimes you do not need a return visit, if the operation has been completely straightforward and you have no other eye disease. You may need multiple visits if you have other eye conditions.

You can usually live as you did before surgery, but some may need to be on sick leave for a while. It can take a long time from the operation of one eye to the operation of the other eye.

What happens in the body?

Cataracts mean that the lens of the eye goes from being transparent to becoming cloudy.

The lens sits in the front of the eye, behind the iris and pupil. Around the lens is an elastic capsule called lens capsule. The lens capsule has the function of holding the lens in place.

In younger people, the lens can change shape and set to make you look good at different distances. This feature disappears at the age of 45. A plastic lens of the type operated in by cataracts has no ability to change the shape of vision at different distances.

It varies how quickly the disease develops

With cataracts, vision becomes progressively worse. It varies how fast it goes. Some can get very poor eyesight in a few months, while the eyesight of others deteriorates slowly, sometimes over several years. You usually get cataracts on both eyes, but at different rates. Thus, it can take a long time from one eye to the other to operate.

The deterioration of vision is due to the light being prevented from entering the eye, due to the cloudy lens. It becomes harder to see and you need more light to see. You may also find that contours and colors become fainter or more yellowish-brown.

Test if you look double

You can see double and see double contours if you have cataracts. This is because the cloudiness in the lens can split the light rays.

Cataracts are more common in the elderly

That the lens becomes cloudy is a natural part of aging. In cataracts, the lens is so cloudy that you get a visual impairment .

Cataracts occur at all ages, but it is more common in the elderly. The average age of cataracts is approximately 74 years.

It is not entirely known why the elderly get cataracts, but hereditary factors and the aging of the body are important. Smoking and that you have been exposed to a lot of sunlight can also be important for developing the disease.

Cataracts may occur at younger ages but this is unusual. For example, the lens may become cloudy after prolonged treatment with cortisone, in severe diabetes or after eye damage. There is also a hereditary variant of cataracts, but it is unusual. These forms of cataracts are operated in the same way as regular cataracts.

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