A cataract is a cloudiness of the eye's natural lens, which lies between the front and back areas of the eye. This makes it difficult for light to pass through it causing poor cloudy vision.
A small incision is made into the eye. The surgeon will either remove the lens as is, or use ultrasound, a laser or surgical solution to break it up, and then remove it. The back membrane of the lens (called the posterior capsule) is left in place. Usually, a replacement lens (called an intraocular lens, or IOL) is inserted.
Cataracts usually start as very small and practically unnoticeable but grow gradually larger and cloudier. Your doctor is probably waiting until the cataract interferes significantly with your vision and your lifestyle. You need to continue to visit your eye doctor regularly so the cataract's progress is monitored. Some cataracts never really reach the stage where they should be removed. If your cataract is interfering with your vision to the point where it is unsafe to drive, or doing everyday tasks is difficult, then it's time to discuss surgery with your doctor.
About half of the population has a cataract by age 65, and nearly everyone over 75 has at least one. But in rare cases, infants can have congenital cataracts at birth. These are usually related to the mother having German measles, chickenpox, or another infectious disease during pregnancy, but sometimes they are inherited.
Femtolaser is recently used in cataract surgery to facilitate the removal of the eye lens. Also, YAG lasers are used in a later procedure to create a clear opening in the lens-containing membrane, if the membrane becomes cloudy in the months following the original cataract removal. Also, at Magrabi we use laser to break up the cloudy lens before removing it. This helps to make the incision wound very small (2 mm).
Nowadays, cataract patients who have intraocular lenses (IOLs) implanted during surgery may need only reading glasses for close vision, but that's about it. People who don't receive IOLs wear contact lenses for distance vision, with reading glasses for close up. Or they may wear multifocal contact lenses for all distances. Rarely does anyone have to wear thick eyeglasses now.
As with any surgery, pain, infection, swelling, and bleeding are possible, but very few patients experience serious problems. Your surgeon may prescribe medications for these effects. Retinal detachment also occurs in a few people. Be on the lookout for excessive pain, vision loss, or nausea, and report these symptoms to your eye surgeon immediately.
All surgery involves some risk. However, cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed type of surgery. Magrabi cataract surgeons have performed thousands of cataracts. Choosing a surgeon with this much experience will reduce the risk of something going wrong.