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How To Treat Cataract

by | Jul 5, 2024 | Caregivers Support, Caregiving, Community, Resources

Cataract refers to the clouding of the native lens of the human eye. While it usually occurs with ageing, certain individuals, such as those with diabetes and those on long-term steroid use, may experience its onset earlier. Our vision is important and once it becomes impaired, it could bring discomfort.

In Singapore, the percentage of elderly patients affected by cataract is about 78.6%. As one gets older, the higher the likelihood of getting cataracts. It affects 63.6% of people between 60 and 64 years, and 94.6% of those 75 years and older.

 

How do you know if you are affected by cataract?

If you suspect you have cataract, here are some common signs and symptoms to look out for:

  1. Blurred, cloudy vision is one of the most tell-tale signs that you may have cataract
  2. Poor vision at night
  3. Glare (lights may appear too bright, or halo may appear around lights)
  4. Coloured objects appear to be less vibrant

 

Cataracts don’t usually hurt and they typically just cause discomfort and make the eyes more sensitive to light, hence some might simply brush off the symptoms. Whilst seniors might be more at risk of cataract, this is a condition that can happen to anyone regardless of age. It does not hurt to watch out for these symptoms and seek timely medical help if needed. 

 

What causes cataract and what factors put one more at risk?

With age, there is a gradual breakdown of protein in the eye lenses and thus leads to blurred vision. Whilst ageing is a key factor, there are lifestyle and environmental factors that increase the risk of one developing cataract. 

Environmental risk factors – lifestyle choices and simply going about day to day life can also increase one’s risk of developing cataract. However, environmental factors are often most within our control as compared to health and genetic factors so here are some risk factors to take note of: 

  1. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation; being under the sun for extended periods of time
  2. Alcohol consumption
  3. Smoking tobacco
  4. Air pollution and irritants

 

Health risk factors – existing health conditions that increases the risk of cataract include:

  1. Diabetes
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Existing eye diseases

 

Treatment of cataract

Treatment varies depending on one’s condition, age and also general health. For early and less serious cases, the doctor usually prescribes glasses and perhaps also stronger lighting to aid vision. This may be a temporary solution which makes one’s vision less blurry but not curing the issue at hand. When in doubt – always approach a doctor or your eye care provider for advice. 

For more serious cases where vision loss affects one’s daily life, the doctor would typically recommend surgery. Cataract is managed by the surgical removal of the lens and this is done in 2 ways: 

  1. Small incision cataract surgery: This is the most common type of cataract surgery. The surgeon makes a small cut (incision) on the edge of the cornea. This is usually a 20-minute procedure often performed under local anaesthesia as a day surgery.
  2. Extracapsular surgery: During this surgery, a larger incision is made on the edge of the cornea to remove the hard centre of the lens in one piece. The rest of the lens is then taken out by suction.

 

After this, a clear, artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is inserted into the eyes which allows light to pass to the retina, improving vision. 

 

Management of cataract – what to expect after cataract surgery 

Cataract surgery is typically done as a day surgery procedure, and patients are usually discharged a few hours after the surgery. One might experience slight pain and discomfort after the surgery and the doctor would typically prescribe pain relievers. After the procedure it is advised that patients refrain from rubbing their eyes and maintain cleanliness and dryness of the operated eye. 

Full recovery takes four to eight weeks and one would typically notice improvements in vision during then. 

 

Conclusion

If you are experiencing these symptoms or suspect that you may have cataracts due to changes in your vision, it is important to seek timely medical help. As caregivers, awareness of the common symptoms and treatment options for cataract would come in handy when a loved one is suspected to have cataract and you would be in a better position to assure them. 

About Growing Needs

About Growing Needs

Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.

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