Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the world and in Malaysia it is estimated that every year over 60,000 cataract procedures are performed.
The only effective treatment for cataract is cataract surgery whereby the cloudy lens is removed surgically and is replaced by an intraocular lens implant. To date, non-surgical method of treating cataract has not been successful and cataract surgery remains the most commonly performed surgery worldwide.
Modern technologies with innovative surgical techniques have made its surgery a painless, safe and hassle free procedure with excellent outcome. Most modern surgeries are performed as a day care procedure under topical anaesthesia. In fact, the entire surgery lasts only about 20 minutes, and most people can resume normal activities fairly rapidly.
Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgeries with a success rate of 95 percent.
With millions over the age of 50 affected by cataracts around the world it seems fitting that an entire month should be dedicated to education and awareness of the condition.
The good news is that even though cataracts are prevalent, they are quite simple to treat. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye, which prevents passage of light into the eye. The solution to cataracts is cataract surgery, which requires a surgeon to remove the deteriorated lens and replace it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens.
Cataracts can affect just about anyone. Although most people do not show symptoms of cataracts until at least the age of 65, cataracts can also affect young adults or even children. Heredity, disease, eye injury and smoking may cause cataracts to develop at an earlier age.
Can the disease be prevented? There is no proven way to prevent age-related cataracts. However, choosing a healthy lifestyle can slow the progression. Some ways to delay the progression of cataracts include avoiding smoking, reducing exposure to UV rays, eating healthy foods, and wearing proper eye protection to avoid eye injury.
In the developed world, ageing is the main cause of cataract development although they can also form congenitally and after various forms of injury to the lens. In the developing world other factors contribute, including malnutrition, acute dehydrating illnesses and excess ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Lack of access to treatment makes them a leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Age-related cataracts are progressive and the progression is variable and unpredictable. Without treatment, most people with a cataract will develop severe visual impairment.
Therefore, let us unite in spreading the word that cataract can easily be treated and if you are age 60 or older, you should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years.