21 December 2010

Cataract in a nutshell

The structures in your eyes change with age. Your may develop vision problems due to cataract formation or glaucoma.


Your once clear and transparent lens may become opaque, causing hazy vision and glare from bright lights. Cataracts have many causes, including age, diabetes and steroid medications.


  • No treatment can prevent or reverse the formation of a cataract. There is no conclusive evidence that sunglasses reduces the risk of cataract formation.
  • Cataracts cause deterioration of vision, but very rarely cause other serious problems. As a result one would normally consider treating a cataract only when vision has deteriorated to an unacceptable level. This is a very personal decision, because some people are quite happy with a level of vision that others find disabling.
  • Treatment involves surgical removal of the lens and its replacement with a new lens of clear synthetic material. The lens can be removed in a number of ways, but the most successful is by means of an ultrasound probe in a procedure known as phaco-emulsification. This is done through a small incision, usually just under the upper eyelid. This is one of the most successful of all surgical procedures, restoring vision in a very high percentage of cases.
  • There is currently no laser procedure available to remove a cataract.


If you have diabetes, control you blood glucose levels as meticulously as possible.

Read more:
Laser eye surgery
Pterygium, the filmy membrane

Useful resources:
South African Optometric Association
Tel: 011 805 4517
South African National Council for the Blind
Tel: 012 452 3811
Retina South Africa
Tel: 011 622 4904
Ophthalmological Society of South Africa


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