What is cataract?
Cataract is where the clear natural lens inside the eye becomes cloudy so that light is scattered and blocked. Vision is then impaired. It may be like looking through a frosted glass or there may be glare in bright lights or with night-driving.
Who gets cataract?
Cataract is more common with increasing age, though it can occur at any time in life. For those aged 45 to 74 the percentage of people with vision reduced by cataract is 30%. By age 60, more than 60% of eyes have cataracts and by 75, about 95% of eyes have cataract.
When you are young, your crystalline lens is clear (no cataracts), therefore vision is clear.
Over the age of 50 years, the crystalline lens becomes cloudy (cataract forms), and vision becomes less clear, especially in dim conditions.
How do you know if you have a cataract?
Symptoms of cataract:
- Blurred vision
- Glare or haloes around bright lights
- Reduction or loss of colour perception
- Difficulty with vision at night or in dim light
- Spectacle prescription changes but glasses no longer improve the vision to a normal standard
Cataract develops slowly and is often not noticed at first. Over time vision becomes affected and may be fuzzy. Colours may appear less vivid and washed out. At least 20% of cataracts get worse over the course of a year and 65% worsen over 5 years.
If cataract is left untreated, it will continue to develop and vision will get worse.
If you suspect you may have cataract, you should see a cataract surgeon like Dr Natasha Lim who will perform a sight test and examination of the eyes to look for the presence of cataract and any other eye problems which may affect the vision.
What is the treatment for cataract?
Cataract cannot be treated with medication so surgery is the only treatment option. Cataract surgery is one of the most successful surgeries and takes about fifteen minutes. With over a million patients choosing to have cataract surgery each year, it is one of the most common of all elective surgical procedures. Millions of cataract procedures have been performed worldwide; and the safety and predictability is well known to be excellent. The lens implant is also expected to last a life-time.
When should I undergo cataract surgery and intra-ocular lens implantation surgery?
The time to consider surgery is when the effects of cataract start to affect your daily activity. When your quality of life starts to be affected, you should undergo cataract surgery to restore your vision. At the same time, it is also a golden opportunity for you to correct any pre-existing myopia (short-sightedness), long-sightedness, presbyopia (“lao hua”) and astigmatism. In the hands of a skillful refractive surgeon, these refractive errors can be completely treated or reduced to enable spectacle freedom post-operatively.
What affects the outcome of your cataract surgery?
- The skills and expertise of the surgeon
- The accuracy of measurements and calculations for the lens implant power (biometry)
- The type of lens implant used
- The cataract surgery equipment and technology used
- The co-operation of the patient during the procedure
- The natural healing process of the eye itself
- The presence of other eye diseases may affect the prognosis of cataract surgery
How can cataract surgery change my life?
Many people who underwent cataract surgery by Dr Natasha Lim, praised the life-changing effects of the procedure. Vision is restored and colours came back to life, with the world being brighter and more vivid. The micro-incisional technique cataract surgery used by Dr Natasha Lim, aims to provide a high quality of vision after surgery. In cases where the patient has pre-existing refractive errors such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness, astigmatism or presbyopia (“lao hua”), cataract surgery has the potential to provide better vision than was previously experienced (without glasses) before cataract developed.
Dr Natasha Lim is a fellowship-trained, specialist cataract, refractive and corneal surgeon who has performed cataract surgery for over 15 years. Her ophthalmic training was mainly undertaken at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, the leading specialist eye facility in the UK, and one of the world’s principal eye centres. Since becoming a consultant at Singapore National Eye Centre in 2008, Dr Lim has built her practice and surgery around clinical excellence, reputation and trust. She aims to deliver the highest possible quality of care.
Authored by: Dr Natasha Lim