Cataract treatment

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A cataract is a progressive eye lens clouding. As a result, light does not correctly pass through the lens, so patients suffer from vision deterioration up to complete blindness. The disease is constantly progressing and requires surgery after months or years. To date, the only treatment is the surgical removal of the lens and insertion of an artificial intraocular lens.

A cataract is a disease characterized by cloudy lenses. The lens is the natural eyeglass of the human eye. It performs a vital function for vision: the refraction of light beams and their concentration on the retina (which then delivers signals to the brain). A cataract reduces vision in the long term. Depending on the affected area on the eye's lens, either near or distant vision worsens. Luckily, lens opacity is easily treatable.

A cataract affects either one eye or both. Unfortunately, the disease is one of the common causes of blindness (over 51%). In addition, females are more prone to develop the illness than males, at 60% and 40%, respectively. In 90% of cases, older people have cataracts. The remaining 10% are infants, teenagers and grownups.

Ophthalmologists share many types of cataracts.

Depending on the reasons:

  • Traumatic can affect any site and develop within a few years after the injury.
  • Hypermature is a cataract left untreated, causing it to become rigid. Ultimately, this form leads to complete blindness.
  • A complicated cataract is a complication of retinitis pigmentosa (damage to the retina), glaucoma, or severe myopia.
  • A drug-induced cataract is associated with drug use. These can be narcotics, hormones, cholesterol-lowering medicines, and others.

Relying on the age of onset of the disorder:

  • Primary - occurs when a child is already born with a cataract or gets it due to congenital causes.
  • Secondary, otherwise called acquired. Various conditions and diseases affect getting cataracts.
  • Infantile is the presence of lens opacity at birth. This form is usually well curable.
  • Juvenile is a hereditary cataract with early onset (usually during adolescence).
  • Presenile appears earlier than senile, in early adulthood.
  • Senile is often a normal part of ageing as the lens structures wear out.

Leaning on the location of the lens lesion:

  • Nuclear is the most common form, and clouding begins at the centre of the lens.
  • Nuclear sclerosis cataract - is caused by the adhesion and hardening of proteins in the lens fluid, which interferes with the passage of light.
  • Subcapsular is a rapidly developing type on the lens's posterior surface.
  • Cortical is described by clouding at the edges of the lens and its spread to the centre.

Cataract brunescens, unlike other types, when the eye is grey or white. In this form, the eyes are brown. It indicates the high maturity of the cataract.

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What is the cause of cataracts?

Eye doctors report a variety of cataract causes, and for simplicity, they are divided into congenital and acquired.

Congenital causes are common and account for 60%. In addition to heredity, the influences on the child during pregnancy (viral infections, taking certain drugs, diabetes mellitus) and congenital diseases (Down syndrome and others).

Acquired cataract usually develops throughout life. It may be the result of:

  • Ageing (a third of all causes of cataracts are over 40 years of age);
  • Eye injury;
  • Environmental impact;
  • Taking certain medications;
  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy;
  • Eye diseases (inflammation, myopia, glaucoma);
  • Way of life, namely malnutrition and alcohol intake, smoking;
  • Diseases (obesity, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, hypertension).

What are the symptoms?

A cataract is invisible for quite a long time since, in the beginning, it practically doesn't manifest itself in any way and does not cause discomfort at all.

The lens is filled with a clear liquid inside. The influence of various factors reduces the transparency of the lens and provokes cataract symptoms:

  • Loss of clarity of vision;
  • Glare;
  • Blurry vision;
  • Contrasts disappear;
  • Distorted colours (brightness of colours drops);
  • Decreased vision near or far;
  • Poor adaptation to darkness or light;
  • Light sensitivity;
  • Double vision;
  • Water cleft (sometimes there are drops in the lens. It looks like raindrops on the windshield).

A vision change always accompanies a cataract. It is a long and painless process. Over time, people see as if through a cloudy glass, the mist or through a stream of water.

Depending on the signs, ophthalmologists distinguish five stages of cataracts:

  • 1st - incipient - patients do not notice changes.
  • 2nd - progressive - the first signs appear.
  • 3rd - mature - lens opacity is visible to the naked eye.
  • 4th - late - patients are almost blind. High eye pressure can cause glaucoma.
  • 5th - hypermature - there are complications in the form of the collapse of the lens and complete blindness. There is a risk of developing glaucoma.

Cataract diagnosis

As a rule, patients in the early stages do not notice vision changes. However, it becomes unsafe when driving or doing other activities. Therefore, often relatives or friends point out the problem. Usually, a cataract is detected by an ophthalmologist without much effort. The diagnosis is made after examining the patient using the following methods:

  • Assessment of visual acuity;
  • Measurement of eye pressure;
  • The slit-lamp examination allows doctors to examine eyes and lenses with the help of a microscope. Using this method, the eye doctor recognizes areas of cloudiness and discovers the type of cataract. Beforehand, patients are given eye drops to dilate the pupil and better see all the eye structures.
  • Ophthalmoscopy uses a microscope and lenses to look at the lens for cataracts.

Treatment options for cataracts

In the very early stages of cataracts, conservative treatment can be used. It includes special eye drops and glasses for vision correction. It is crucial to get rid of the cause of the disorder:

  • Treat the disease that caused the cataract;
  • Wear sunglasses;
  • Change the diet;
  • Give up alcohol, cigarettes and certain drugs.

Such methods slow down the lens opacity but do not stop it completely.

Eye microsurgery is the only way to treat cataracts. Modern microsurgery lasts up to 30 minutes and involves lens removal and replacement with an intraocular lens (IOL). Cataract microsurgery methods:

  • An advanced strategy is ultrasound phacoemulsification with IOL implantation. Through a small incision (3 mm), the ultrasound probe softens and destroys the lens and removes it from the eye. The surgeon then puts an IOL in place of the removed lens.
  • Laser surgery involves crushing the lens into small pieces using a laser. After removing the remnants of the lens, an IOL is replaced.
  • Cataract extraction suggests a longer incision and is carried out in such ways: extracapsular (removal of the lens nucleus without its capsule) and intracapsular (removal of the lens with its capsule).
  • After cataract surgery, patients experience discomfort for several days. The good thing about the surgery is that the disease does not recur, the intraocular lens does not need to be replaced, and it remains forever. Complete healing and return to everyday life occur in a few weeks.
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What is the treatment prognosis?

The prognosis for vision after cataract treatment is favourable. The success rate of cataract surgery is over 90%. However, 70% of patients require cataract operation at 65-75 years old. Postoperative complications occur in only 1-1.5% of cases.

FAQ

What are treatment options for cataracts used in clinics abroad?

Treatment options for cataracts in modern clinics involve microsurgeries followed by replacement with an intraocular lens. In addition, ophthalmologists are turning to laser surgery and ultrasound phacoemulsification to cut the lens into small pieces and remove it. Doctors also use extracapsular and intracapsular сataract extraction (lens removal).

Might cataract surgery abroad be better?

Definitely yes. Surgery abroad has many advantages. The main benefits are the latest microsurgery technologies, minimally invasive and seamless operations, and a large selection of intraocular lenses.

Why do patients with cataracts go abroad for treatment?

Treatment abroad is prevalent among cataract patients because of the specialized eye clinics, the latest equipment, the many years of ophthalmologists' experience and the availability of high-quality IOLs.

What is the advantage of eye clinics abroad for cataracts?

The advantages of foreign eye clinics contribute to the high popularity of cataract treatment. Hospitals are known for specialists with many years of experience, fast and timely diagnosis, and innovative equipment for vision correction. Among other things, therapy is in comfortable conditions and has a reasonable price-quality ratio.

Is cataract surgery successful?

Yes. Cataract microsurgery is an effective and safe treatment with a success rate of over 90%. In addition, 9 out of 10 patients after cataract surgery have improved vision.

Where can I get Cataract treatment?

Germany, Turkey, Spain, Poland, Lithuania are among the best for Cataract treatment.

5 countries and 10 cities for Cataract