As we age the lens inside the eye gradually becomes less transparent resulting in an individual’s vision being less clear. In medical terms this is described as a Cataract. If a cataract is left untreated the cataract will get worse, making your vision cloudy. A common operation can easily remove the misty lens, replacing it with an artificial one enabling you to see clearly again. This does not only happen in adults, some children can develop this condition and is known as congenital cataracts. It can be identified before or just after birth but is normally dealt with in a different way to adults.
How your eye works:
When looking at an object light will pass through the front of your eye, it is then focused by the cornea and then the lens onto the retina. So that light can pass directly through, the lens is normally clear. This is because of the way the cells are arranged in the lens. Light is then focused onto the retina which can convert the light into electrical signals. It is a network of nerves that will deliver these signals from the different parts of the retina, to the optic nerve, which then finally find themselves onto the brain. To enable us to “see” the brain will cleverly interpret these signals in a special way.
Called the “accommodation of vision” the lens will change shape to allow us to focus on objects which are different distances away. As we age the lens loses the ability to change shape as well as it used to; the people who can see clearly into the distance without glasses will normally have to rely on reading glasses as they will not be able to see things up close. A cataract does not affect this. Cataracts is the result of a change in the way cells of the lens arrange themselves and their water content, this in turn makes the vision become cloudy. When this process is happening light cannot pass directly through the lens and you may notice problems with your vision.
The Removal of Cataract
Operating on your cataract can be performed at any stage of the development. If you are diagnosed with this problem there is no point in waiting to have it fixed. As there are some risks with any type of surgery you should probably wait until your vision is altered by your cataract. It is common for people to go through with surgery when their cataract starts to affect their everyday life. This obviously will differ from person to person. If you have issues when looking into bright lights, reading or generally taking care of yourself then consider getting the surgery as soon as possible.
After you have had surgery you will be able to resume everyday activities as soon as you feel up to it. Apart from taking eye drops your daily life will not be affected tremendously. When I had Cataract Surgery in Essex I avoided doing the following for at least ten days:
- Rubbing your eye. An eye shield (patch) may be advisable when you are sleeping to avoid contact with your eye.
- Swimming (until your ophthalmologist says you can), for the prevention of contact with dirty water while your eye is healing.
- Strenuous exercise, contact sports and heavy lifting. Everyday lifting like light shopping is usually fine.
- Wearing eye makeup until the hospital are happy with your recovery
- Take care when it is windy or dusty outdoors, in case something blows in your eye.
- Take care when washing your hair; prevent soapy water from getting into your eye.