What Are Cataracts?

By: Richard Farrah

The term cataract is used to describe the way that a lens in your eye becomes clouded over time. This clouding can initially take a mild form that is hardly noticeable but may then worsen as time passes. In the worst possible case scenario an untreated cataract can lead to blindness.
Cataracts can be caused by various factors. It is, for example, quite common to develop a cataract in one or both of your eyes as you get older. You may be more prone to this occurring if you have a family history of cataract development. Certain types of medications are also widely held to potentially lead to cataract problems.
Cataracts can also be caused by a variety of other things such as exposure to dangerous levels of ultraviolet light or radiation. In some cases a cataract can also be caused by an injury to the eye although the cataract may not immediately develop here and may not become a problem until years later.
Not all of the cataracts that can appear in our eyes are the same or cause the same problems at the same time. Some people simply develop cataract clouding over part of their eye(s) and some will develop over all of the eye. And, the position of the actual cataract can vary from individual to individual -- some cataracts, for example, are known as anterior and some as posterior.
The issues that you have with cataracts can actually be quite simply solved. In very basic terms here you can have an operation that removes some or all of the affected lens and replaces it with an artificial one. This ensures that your sight remains unblighted.
The two primary types of cataract operations are known as Extracapsular Cataract Extraction (ECCE) and Intracapsular Cataract Extraction (ICCE). In both cases your eye surgeon will cut into the capsule in your eye that contains your lens. In an ECCE procedure he/she will then take out the lens but leave most of the capsule itself in place. In an ICCE procedure he/she will also remove the capsule.
Nowadays it is rare to have an ICCE procedure here as improvements in technology have made it easier and safer to use ECCE instead. But, in either operation the surgeon will remove the affected lens and will put in an artificial plastic lens to replace it. In some cases you can also arrange to have special lenses created for you here which could also correct any general defects of vision that you might have.
Today's cataract operations are quick and simple and are performed as a matter of course in most hospitals. You no longer need to have a general anesthetic for this kind of procedure which is usually done on a day surgery basis with a local anesthetic instead.
It is important, if you are having your cataracts sorted, to make sure that you stringently follow the after care instructions that you are given by your surgeon. This will help avoid issues such as infection and will make your recovery much more successful.

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