What is cataract?

Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. The lens, which consists of mostly water and protein, works much like a camera lens, focusing light onto the light-sensitive layer or retina at the back of the eye.

What are the causes of cataracts?

Ageing is the most important cause and cataract formation is thought to be part of a normal ageing process.  Protein in the natural lens clumps together and starts to cloud a small area of the lens. Over time, it may grow larger and cloud more of the lens.

Other causes include:

  • Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light (sunlight)
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic eye diseases e.g. chronic inflammation
  • Eye trauma
  • Medications e.g. steroid, radiotherapy
  • High myopia

What symptoms will I experience if I have cataract?

A cataract starts out small and may have little effect on your vision. Symptoms will be more noticeable when the lens gets more cloudy or under certain situations e.g. looking at bright light, night driving.

  • Blurred vision
  • Double or multiple images
  • Colours appear less bright or vivid
  • Difficulty with night driving
  • Seeing glare and haloes
  • Frequent change of glasses

How can I prevent cataracts?

You can’t really prevent cataract formation as it is part of an ageing process. However, there are things you can do to slow down its progression.

  • Use of sunglasses during outdoors activities
  • Optimal control of diabetes
  • Limit usage of medications that may promote cataract formation
  • Stop smoking

How are cataracts treated?

No treatment is required if you do not have any symptoms and are happy with your vision. Getting a new pair of glasses or reading with better lighting may be helpful for those with early cataracts.

Surgery will be needed when your cataracts have progressed enough to seriously impair your vision and affect your daily life. With advancement in surgical technique, you do not have to wait for the cataract to be “ripe” before surgery can be done.

At Nobel Eye and Vision Centre, we offer customised suture-less small-incision cataract surgery (or phacoemulsification) which involves inserting an ultrasonic probe through a small incision. The cataract is broken up and smaller pieces are aspirated. A clear, plastic intraocular lens (IOL) is then inserted. Depending on their visual requirements, our patients can choose from an array of monofocal IOLs or presbyopia-correcting / multifocal IOLs.

Some people may consider poor vision as an inevitable effect of ageing, but cataract surgery is a safe, relatively painless day surgery procedure to regain vision.