Eye Health

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.

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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.

 Treatment

  • 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.

Prevention

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

Read more:
Cataracts
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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Optometrist

Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg and is currently practising at Tygerberg Academic Hospital in Cape Town. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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