Cataract and cataract surgery.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision.
The lens is a clear biconvex structure located behind the pupil and helps to focus light
on the retina. In cataract, clouding of the lens reduces
the amount of light that reaches the retina, causing blurred vision. The color of the lens
also changes, adding a brownish tint to the image. Cataract is most commonly related to aging, but there are many other causes. Cataract
may develop as a result of other eye diseases such as glaucoma, or other health conditions
such as diabetes. Radiation such as X-rays or ultraviolet light, especially UVB, can
increase the risks of developing cataract. Genetic make-up also plays a significant role.
Cataracts are rare in children but do occur in the form of “congenital cataract” where
babies are born with cataracts, or develop them in early childhood, often in both eyes.
Surgery is the most effective treatment for cataract. Surgery involves removing the cloudy
lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. Cataract surgery is relatively simple and
highly successful. The most commonly performed cataract surgery
is phacoemulsification, or phaco. In this procedure:
– A small incision is made on the side of the cornea. – An ultrasound probe is used to emulsify the cloudy lens which is then removed by suction. – A plastic foldable lens, called an intraocular lens or IOL, is inserted to replace the natural lens.