Cataracts are a leading cause of visual loss in the world. A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. Cataracts are usually in both eyes but they can be asymmetric. Cataracts are curable with surgery and this surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in North America.
There are many potential causes of cataracts:
- Certain medications
- Ocular inflammation
- Alcohol use
- Family history of early cataracts
- Exposure to radiation
- Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light
Diagnosis of Cataracts
A diagnosis of cataracts as a cause for vision loss is made after a full ocular exam including a dilated eye exam looking for other potential causes for vision loss.
Early cataracts can sometimes be treated with non-surgical methods such as:
- New eyeglass prescription
- Anti-glare sunglasses
- Stronger reading glasses
Significant advances have been made in cataract surgery technique and technology that has allowed this highly finessed microinvasive procedure to be performed in an outpatient setting with topical freezing and usually without the need for stitches to close the wounds. Cataract surgery replaces the cloudy natural lens of the eye with a clear artificial lens, known as an intraocular lens (IOL). In Kingston this surgery is performed at the Hotel Dieu Hospital.
During cataract surgery, a 2.4 mm incision is made in the eye making room for a small ultrasound probe. This probe breaks up, or emulsifies the cataract into tiny pieces. The lens pieces are then suctioned out through the probe.
After the cataract has been removed, the IOL is implanted in the eye. The IOL is foldable and inserted through the same incision that was made to remove the original lens.