The only treatment currently available for the treatment of cataracts is surgery through the use of a surgical microscope.
What is the treatment for cataracts?
The intervention consists of an excision of the part of the crystal that has become opaque and the installation of a replacement lens in plastic material (artificial lens or IOL, Intra Ocular Lens). In most cases, the intervention does not require sutures and has an average duration of about 30 to 45 minutes.
The procedure may also apply lenses with special features:
- Multifocal lenses, which are able to focus at two distances, one from afar and one from up close
- Toric lenses, which are used to correct astigmatism, and congenital defects of vision that causes objects to appear blurred and distorted, or far
- Aspherical lenses, which have a more curved shape in the centre and become flat at the edges. The lenses offset the natural defects of the cornea in order to allow a better view in any situation and improve contrast sensitivity
- Filtered lenses, which absorb and filter harmful rays (including solar rays) to the retina thanks to special pigments.
The surgery is performed under local anaesthesia with special eye drops and it is performed in special operating rooms that are suitably equipped for surgery.
If the patient has cataracts on both eyes, the procedure is usually performed in two separate occasions in order for the first eye to have time to heal and the vision to return.
Is cataract treatment painful and/or dangerous?
Today, the cataract surgery is not dangerous and it is painless. The surgery is performed under local anaesthesia with eye drops of short duration. The procedure is performed with the help of an operating microscope and thus it requires sufficient cooperation of the patient. It is always recommended not to delay the time of surgery because cataracts assume a consistency that is considered too high.
Which patients can undergo treatment of cataracts?
Most eye doctors recommend surgery when cataracts begin to compromise the quality of life or interfere with normal daily activities, such as reading, writing or driving at night.
The operated eye must remain covered for a day. The effect of the procedure is noticeable after a few days providing the patient with a satisfactory visual recovery. After 10-15 days of the surgery, the recovery may be complete and allow any correction of additional visual defect residues.
In some cases, after months or years of the surgery, it is possible that the capsule where artificial lens was inserted to opacify. This is refereed to as a secondary cataract. A quick outpatient treatment with a special laser (YAG laser) may be used to resolve the problem permanently.
Standard of preparation
The patient should stop taking medications that are contraindicated and administer the prescribed eye drops regularly or as instructed. On the day of the surgery the patient is required to wash their face appropriately and avoid using makeup. Moreover, it is recommended that the patient is accompanied by a friend or family member who can also take the patient home and look after the patient at least for the first night after the procedure.