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Top 7 Frequently Asked Questions About Cataracts

Top 7 Frequently Asked Questions About Cataracts

Top 7 Frequently Asked Questions About Cataracts

It is unsurprising that many have pressing concerns about cataracts, given that this prevalent eye condition is one of the leading causes of blindness globally. In fact, cataracts are the most common eye condition worldwide, ahead of other severe eye diseases like glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.

In Singapore, cataracts affect around 80% of Singaporeans over 60 years old and 95% of Singaporeans over 70 years old. As such, understanding this condition is essential, not only for those who have been diagnosed but also for those who seek to maintain their vision well into their golden years. Let our eye doctor, Dr. Eugene Tay, address the top questions many have about cataracts.

 

Question #1: What are cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of our eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and pupil. This cloudiness will gradually blur vision, making daily tasks increasingly challenging. Unfortunately, cataracts cannot be prevented entirely, as they are an inevitable part of ageing. However, this eye condition can also result from injury or underlying conditions like diabetes.

 

Question #2: What causes cataracts?

Causes Cataracts

Ageing is the most common cause of cataracts. However, it is not the only cause. In infants, cataracts may develop due to a chemical imbalance, developmental abnormality, or infection. Hereditary factors, such as Lowe syndrome or neurofibromatosis type 2, may also play a role in cataracts forming.

Diabetes and taking specific long-term medications, such as steroids, can also speed up the development of cataracts. Other possible risk factors include excessive exposure to harmful UV rays, extreme myopia, an injury to the eye, and smoking. If you are diagnosed with cataracts, rest assured that it is treatable with cataract surgery.

 

Question #3: How can I reduce my risk of developing cataracts?

While ageing is inevitable, you can modify your lifestyle to reduce your risk of developing cataracts. We recommend wearing quality sunglasses when outdoors to shield your eyes from the harmful UV rays from the sun. Meanwhile, a diet rich in anti-ageing antioxidants, such as vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E, can be beneficial, and so is quitting smoking. 

Those with diabetes should visit their doctor regularly and strive to maintain firm control over their blood sugar levels. If you are on steroid medications, please consult your doctor about non-steroidal alternatives if possible.

 

Question #4: What are the symptoms of cataracts?

The Symptoms of Cataracts

The typical symptom of cataract formation is a slow, gradual, and painless decrease in vision, with blurred vision the most common complaint. In early cataracts, blurry vision is often worse under intense sunlight, bright lights, or when reading. Glare is another primary concern, especially when driving at night. As the condition worsens, the vision gets more blurry, and colours appear duller. 

In some early cataract cases, vision may be improved slightly with corrective lenses. However, as the cataract matures, frequent prescription changes become necessary until the lenses are no longer helpful. In rare cases, patients may even encounter double vision. If you experience any of the symptoms above, please consult our eye doctor as soon as possible.

 

Question #5: Are cataracts painful?

Rest assured that cataracts are not painful. However, some may encounter non-specific eyestrain symptoms, which may sometimes be interpreted as eye pain. However, this condition is known as “acute lens (cataract) induced glaucoma”. In this instance, the cataract causes sudden, acute pain accompanied by sudden and severe loss of vision. Please consult our eye doctor immediately if you experience this issue.

 

Question #6: How are cataracts treated?

Currently, surgery is the only effective treatment for cataracts. The process involves replacing the cloudy lens with an artificial intra-ocular lens implant made of biocompatible material. Because an individual’s eye power varies, the implanted lens must be specifically customised to neutralise any pre-existing refractive errors. As a result, patients usually experience better vision without glasses after cataract surgery.

Learn More: Types Of Cataract Surgery

 

Question #7: When do I need cataract surgery?

A Patient Undergoing Cataract Surgery

The decision to undergo cataract surgery usually depends on how much the condition affects your daily life and activities. Consider surgery if the cataract is hampering your ability to drive, read, work, or enjoy your hobbies. In early cataracts, some may find that a change in prescription glasses is sufficient to relieve their vision problems. However, cataract surgery is the only means to restore clear vision when this fails. 

However, avoid waiting until the cataract matures or is “ripe” enough before undergoing cataract surgery. Early intervention is vital for earlier and faster visual rehabilitation and safer surgery. Rest assured that the procedure is safe, with a high success rate. You do not have to worry about staying in the hospital afterwards, as modern cataract surgery can be performed as an outpatient procedure. Moreover, recovery is usually swift, and patients can resume their daily activities within a few days.

If you suspect you may have cataracts, please consult our experienced eye doctor, Dr. Eugene Tay, immediately. Our doctor can assess your condition and answer any queries you may have about the eye condition and the surgery procedure, including the cost of cataract surgery. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our eye clinic.

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