- Q: How do I know whether I have cataract?
A: If you are above 40 and have blurred vision for distance and near despite glasses, you may be suffering from cataract. However, it is important to first get the right number of glasses by an eye care professional before thinking of cataract; as a simple change of glasses may cure the problem of blurred vision. Other symptoms experienced by cataract patients include glare (specially from the headlights of oncoming vehicles while driving), faint appearance of bright colors, decreased vision in bright light and sunlight as compared to indoors and sometimes multiple images of bright objects like bulb, tube-light or the moon.
- Q: At what age do people develop cataracts?
A: There is no fixed age for developing cataracts. Some people may not develop cataracts even till the age of 80, while some others may have significant cataracts even at the age of 40. Development of cataract is related to many factors including, nutrition, exposure to sunlight and UV radiation, hereditary factors, smoking and other minor factors like long-term exposure to hair-dyes etc.
- Q: At what stage should cataracts be operated?
A: This is again quite variable from patient to patient. While some younger patients with active lifestyle may need cataract surgery at a very early stage to continue activities like night driving etc., others may not feel the need for surgery till an advanced stage as their lifestyle is not hampered. There is no need now to wait for the cataract to "mature"as is still believed by some people. In fact, with the modern phaco machines and surgery, it is advisable not to wait for too long as the cataract then becomes hard in density and the surgery is more difficult as compared to soft cataracts.
- Q: Do I still need glasses after surgery if I have an IOL (lens) implanted inside my eye?
A: The commonly used monofocal IOLs can provide spectacle free vision for either distance or near. However, for very fine vision, one has to use glasses. We usually aim to give spectacle free vision for distance and the patient then has to wear reading glasses like other people of that age group. Multi-focal IOLs are now available which because of their special design can provide spectacle free vision for both distance and near. However, these IOls are much more expensive than ordinary IOLs and are implanted by only a few cataract surgeons. At our center, we have the facilities and the accreditation to implant these multifocal IOLs. Recently Indian companies have also started manufacturing multifocal IOLs, which we have been implanting at our centre, and in our experience, they have given good results.
- Q: What is the difference between different type of IOLs.?
A: Broadly speaking IOLs are either foldable or non-foldable. The foldable IOls can be implanted through a much smaller incision as they unfold to their full size inside the eye. So, there is no need for any suture and the patient can see clearly immediately after the surgery. Non-foldable IOLs are implanted through a bigger incision and therefore may need sutures. Otherwise the difference between different IOls is like the picture seen on television. All types of television show the picture but the quality varies according to the model. Some other differences like the ability to block blue light etc. are best discussed with your doctor. Also the difference between monofocal and multifocal IOLs is as discussed above.
- Q: Can the cataract recur after surgery?
A: Cataract does not recur after surgery but the membrane on which the IOL is placed may thicken after surgery causing blurred vision. This can easily be cured by a laser procedure done in the OPD. Such after cataracts commonly develop between 1 and 5 years after surgery.