CATARACT

CATARACT

What is cataract?

  • Cataract is a condition whereby your eye lenses becomes blurry.

  • You are unable to see your surroundings clearly. It is as if you were looking through a foggy window.

  • Most cataracts will form slowly and do not interfere with your vision at an early stage.

  • After a while, the cataracts will eventually disrupt your vision.

What are the indications?

Among the signs that you may have cataract are:

  • You always see a circle of light formed around a light source

  • You always need to change your eyeglasses or contact lens prescription for better vision

  • It's harder to see your surroundings at night

  • Sensitivity to light and glare

  • The colors in the environment seem fading or yellowing

  • Vision becomes blurry

  • Double vision in one eye

  • You need bright light just to read and do other activities

Difference between a normal eye (left) vs a cataract eye (right)

Visibility differences through a normal eye (left) vs a cataract eye (right)

What are the causes?

Among the causes of cataract are:

  • Excessive exposure to sunlight

  • Experienced eye injury in the past

  • Increase in age

  • Had eye surgery in the past

  • Had eye inflammation in the past

  • Prolonged usage of corticosteroid drugs

  • Diabetes

  • Over consumption of alcohol

  • High blood pressure

  • Obesity

  • Smoking

How to avoid & control it?

The steps that can be taken to prevent cataracts are:

 

  • Do regular eye examinations by:

    • Age 20 - 39 years old: Do eye examination every 2 to 3 years.

    • Age 40 - 64: Do eye examination every 2 years.

    • Age 65 years and above: Do eye examination annually.

If there is an eye problem, the frequency of follow-up eye examinations will be based on the doctor's advice.

 

  • Stop smoking cigarettes completely.

  • Reduce alcohol consumption.

  • Eat foods high in antioxidants for eye health such as:

    • Vegetables

    • Fruits

  • Managing other health problems such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure to reduce the risk of cataracts.

 

  • Wear sunglasses when going out to reduce the eye's exposure to UV radiation from the sun which can damage the eyes.

How it is detected?

If you have any signs of cataract that have been mentioned, discuss with the doctor about your specific situation. With the advice of a doctor, you can decide whether the screening method is right for you.

Cataract is detected using:

  • 'Slit lamp' check: Uses a tool that combines a microscope with a high-intensity light source to check the condition of your eyes.

  • Retinal examination: Eye drops will be used to assist in the opening of pupils. Then, the retina will be examined by using a 'slit lamp' instrument or an ophthalmoscope to detect signs of cataract.

  • Visual acuity test: Usage of eye charts that have different sizes of letters to determine how well you can read them.

How it is treated?

Discuss with your doctor what type of treatment is best for your specific situation.

The method to treat cataract is by:

  • Cataract surgery: Involves removing part of your eye lens that has cataract and replacing them with artificial lenses. Intraocular lenses are the type of artificial lenses that will be placed at the same position as your natural eye lenses. It will remain there as part of your eyes.

When do you need to see a doctor?

  • Make an appointment with your doctor if you recognize signs of cataract.

  • Each hospital has different methods for screening cataract.

  • Discuss the cataract screening with your doctor. Together with a physician, you can decide what is best for you.

Malaysia has been voted numerous times as the best destination to seek quality affordable healthcare. Find a hospital in Malaysia that suits your specific situation here: Hospital Guide

How to get ready with your appointments?

For your preparation, a medical specialist may ask you some questions as follows:

  • Are the signs of your illness occurring continuously or occasionally?

  • How severe are the illness signs mentioned?

  • Since when did you begin to experience the signs of the illness?

  • ​Have you ever had an eye injury or an eye surgery?

  • Have you ever had eye problems like inflammation of the iris?

  • What triggers the signs of your illness to be more severe? (if any)

  • What do you usually do to relieve any signs of your illness?

 

 

What you can do to prepare before the appointment is:

  • List the signs of your illness.

  • Know any restriction that needs to be done before the appointment. Make sure to ask first what to do before appointment (such as limiting your diet, etc.).

  • List all the medicines, vitamins or supplements you consume.

  • If possible, invite family members or friends to be with you. Sometimes we find it difficult to remember all the information during the appointment. Your companion might just help you with this.

  • List your personal information that can help your doctor in investigating your illness (such as major stresses in your life or any changes in your life recently).

  • List all the questions you would like to ask your doctor.

Here are some general questions that you can ask your doctor:

  • What are the possible causes for signs of illness that appear on me?

  • What method of screening should I take? Do I need to make any necessary arrangements before doing the screening?

  • What is the severity of my illness?

  • Should I get a second doctor's opinion of my condition?

  • What are the treatment options that are suitable for my condition?

  • Are there any side effects for each treatment?

  • How does each treatment option affect my daily life?

  • How big is my possibility of getting completely healed from the disease if I undergo the treatment?

  • Do I need to undergo the treatment immediately without delay?

  • How long will the treatment last?

  • How often should I get examined after treatment?

  • What are the complications that I need to face in the future?

  • What other alternatives are available apart from the medicines you prescribed? (if any)

  • Do I need to make any changes to my lifestyle? What nutrition and level of activity are appropriate for my condition?

  • What else can I do to protect my health?

  • I have other health problems. How can I best manage this situation?

If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to ask the doctor during your appointment.

Updated: February 03, 2019

References:

  1. Porter, Robert S. The Merck Manual of Patient Symptoms: A Concise, Practical Guide to Etiology, Evaluation and Treatment. Wiley, 2008.

  2. Papadakis, Maxine A., McPhee, Stephen J., Rabow, Michael W. CURRENT Medical Diagnosis and Treatment. 58th ed. McGraw Hill Professional, 2018.

  3. Beirman, Robin., Engel, Roger. An A-Z of Symptoms and Signs. Palgrave Macmillan Australia, 2009.

  4. Griffith, Henry W. Complete Guide to Symptoms, Illness & Surgery. 3rd ed. Body Press/Perigree Books, 1995.

  5. National Health Service. 2019. Cataract Surgery. [https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cataract-surgery/]. Accessed 29 January 2019.

Cataract surgery using laser

Eye screening using ophthalmoscope

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