Right now there’s no way to deal with cataracts besides actually doing surgery, so despite all sorts of advances in medicine, cataracts remain a surgical disease.
And what that involves is patients have a topical anesthetic that means eye drops put on the surface of the eye, and we do have a procedure where we make a small incision in the surface and use a probe, an ultrasound based probe, to help break up the cataract and take it out of the eye.
Loading the player...Cataract Causes and Symptoms Dr. Steven Schendel, MD, FRSC (C), Ophthalmologist, discusses the causes and symptoms of cataracts
So a cataract is an opacification of the lens that occurs over time as people age and just like a camera has a lens in it, the eye requires a lens in it to focus images on the back of the eye. As we are young we have a nice clear lens in the eye, and then as we age it tends to get a little bit green or brown over time, and we call that development of a cataract.
Now most of the time this is a slow process, but occasionally it can happen more rapidly, and that can be if somebody’s had trauma in the eye, if they’ve inflammation inside of the eye, if they’ve had surgery in the eye, or sometimes if they have certain medical conditions they are required to take medication for a certain amount of time.
Although those scenarios are less common the vast majority of time as cataracts come on very gradually over months or even years. And patients might not perceive anything for a long time.
Usually they complain of decreased vision gradually just like I’ve explained. Sometimes they notice difficulty in different lighting situations particularly when it’s dark. They might have problems with glare or issues with driving, and those things will prompt them to see an eye care professional or their GP and get them sent in to see an ophthalmologist who can take a look at them.
When an eye care professional knows that you have cataracts or suspects you do or perhaps your GP suspect you do, they send you to an ophthalmologist. And there you have a full eye examination including dilation of the eyes where the doctor can ensure that the amount of cataract you have corresponds with your complaints, with the decreased level of vision that you have. Often seeing a local Ophthalmologists or Optometrist in conjunction with your family physician or a registered dietician is a great option to dealing with eye conditions and symptoms.
And then they might order some tests in the office to make sure you don’t have any other eye diseases present, and if that’s the case, they’ll go ahead and organize cataract surgery for you, which is how we treat this particular problem.
If you have been having decreased vision, or you’ve noticed some changes in your vision, and you suspect you might have cataracts, or were told that you had early cataracts developing, it’s reasonable to go see your GP or optometrist and get a referral to an ophthalmologist for a full eye assessment. Presenter: Dr. Steven Schendel, Ophthalmologist, Vancouver, BC