Cataract Surgery: What You Should Know
Cataract Surgery can be a daunting prospect, but the improvement to your vision is one of the key main benefits of undergoing Cataract surgery.
What are Cataracts?
Cataracts are linked to the aging process and they affect millions of people aged 60 and over.
The disorder is known to impair vision by clouding the eye’s lens.
The condition develops gradually depending on the type cataract involved. In the early days, sufferers may have zero symptoms, but will develop significant vision complications as years pass. If left untreated, it may lead to blindness.
Benefits of Cataract Surgery
Fortunately, patients who undergo surgery not only experience better vision, but also enjoy a vastly improved quality of life.
Cataracts have the capacity to prevent sufferers from handling everyday tasks, such as driving, cooking or reading. It undermines an individual’s independence, which may lead to social withdrawal.
A recent study showed that cataract surgery can improve a patient’s quality of life by up to 36 percent when compared to people who do not undergo the procedure.
Surgery to remove cataracts is undoubtedly one of the common surgeries performed by physicians in the UK.
On the upside, it is also among the safest corrective procedures. Surgeons only work on one eye at a time and the entire procedure is typically carried out while the patient is awake.
Surgeons only administer anaesthesia to the area around the affected eye. Patients may be given medication for relaxation.
Cataract surgery improves chances of a longer life
A recent study confirmed that older people with cataracts can drastically improve their chances of living longer by undergoing corrective surgery.
Participants evaluated in the study showed a 40 percent decrease in mortality risk.
This form of intervention drastically reduces the risk of falls that could cause fractures. With age, falls can prove problematic and may even lead to death. In many instances, these mishaps are caused by loss of vision.
In 2012, researchers conducted a study involving participants aged 65 and older who had cataracts. Results of the evaluations revealed that surgery contributed to a 16 percent decrease in the possibility of suffering a hip fracture. The odds for people with severe cataracts were reduced by 23 percent.
Cataracts are triggered by changes in the structure of the eye’s lens. As a result, the eye becomes cloudy and light cannot pass through as the condition deteriorates. Although it is possible for younger people to have cataracts, the problem generally affects older seniors. Some of the common symptoms associated with the disorder include seeing halos around lights, sensitivity to light, glare, blurry vision and decreased night vision.
Protecting your vision
Ophthalmologists recommend a number of preventive measures. These include:
– Wearing correct prescription eyeglasses — in the event that a patient requires eyeglasses following surgery, it is important to pick the right glasses. Any changes to the prescription should be accompanied with a new set of glasses.
– Regular eye check-ups — eye examinations provide a viable way to detect the presence of cataract symptoms before the condition deteriorates. Ophthalmologists can detect changes to lens’ protein structure and the extent of vision loss.
– Lifestyle factors — smokers face an elevated risk of developing cataracts among other complications. Alcohol is also a contributing factor.
– UV exposure — environmental factors, such as exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays can contribute to the development of cataracts.
– Steroid use — overdosing steroid drugs has been proven to cause cataracts
Role of a Lens
The lens plays an important role in the normal functioning of the eye. It is designed to help focus light on the retina. The lens comprises the light-sensitive tissue and it is clear. When the eye is working optimally, the lens allows light to pass through the clear part to reach the retina. Upon reaching the retina, light is transformed into nerve signals, which can be read by the brain. To transmit sharp images to the retina, the lens should be clear. Hence, the need for proteins to retain their proper structure to avoid causing a blurry vision.
The lens is located at the back of the eye just behind the pupil and iris. Its functions are similar to those of a camera lens. It has the capacity to adjust the human eye’s focus to improve clarity of vision when looking at both close and distant objects. It is filled with protein and water; however, the aging process may cause the protein to clump together, thus losing its structure.
Health conditions and lifestyle habits, such as diabetes and smoking have been proven to contribute to the development of cataracts. When cataracts affect non-smoking, healthy people without any pre-existing medical conditions, the eye disorder is most likely triggered by normal wear and tear associated with aging.
How Cataracts affect vision
Older people can be affected by cataracts in one of two ways. Some patients may notice that the transparent lens has changed into brownish or yellowish colour. The lens may degenerate as clumping of proteins compromises the sharpness of vision.
When the lens becomes yellowish or brownish, an individual’s vision also mimics the same colour. The amount of tinting that affects vision will be minimal in the early days and worsens over time. The tinting significantly reduces the amount of light that reaches the retina, thus undermining vision. Patients will eventually experience difficulty handling routine activities, such as reading. However, this condition does not affect sharpness as with cataracts caused by clumping of proteins.
Discoloration affects vision by making it harder for individuals to distinguish between different colours. As a result, one may not notice any difference between the colour purple and blue. It becomes possible to assume one is wearing a black shirt only to be told that it is purple. This happens when a patient is affected by advanced discoloration.
The majority of older people with cataracts develop the condition due to protein clumping. Individuals with cataracts in their 40s or 50s may not notice any symptoms until they reach the 60s.
Types of Cataracts
People affected by the eye disorder can experience a variety of symptoms, which are determined by the type of cataract involved. Cataract types include:
– Radiation cataract — can be caused by exposure to certain types of radiation
– Traumatic cataract — develops as a result of injury to the eye. The cataracts only appear after several years.
– Congenital cataract — it is possible for some babies to be diagnosed with the condition at birth or develop symptoms in childhood. In most cases, the cataracts will be small and may not affect the child’s vision.
– Secondary cataract — this type of disorder is triggered by complications during surgery for unrelated eye conditions, such as glaucoma.
Ophthalmologists can diagnose the eye condition by conducting tests, such as tonometry, dilated eye exam or the visual acuity test. Tonometry involves testing eyes using a specially designed instrument that measures pressure inside the eye. Doctors usually administer numbing drops before conducting the tests. The visual acuity test, on the other hand, assesses a patient’s vision at varying distances.
The dilated eye exam entails administering eye drops into the patient’s eyes. This is aimed at dilating or widening the pupils before examining the optic nerve and retina for any signs of damage. The ophthalmologist uses a special magnifying lens to conduct the examination.
The eye drops can cause the patient’s vision to remain blurred for several hours after the tests. A physician may conduct additional examinations to properly assess the patient’s eyes. .
Cost of Cataract Surgery
In the United Kingdom, healthcare facilities charge varying fees to perform cataract surgery. As of 2017, the lowest price offered by some of the clinics is £1,800. The cheapest average is offered by facilities located in the north east of the country, which is about £2,340 while a significant number of facilities in central London charge the highest average prices (£2,973).
On the other hand, the national average in Scotland is £2,680 while patients in Wales can expect an average of £2,234. Some hospitals in Buckinghamshire charge prices of up to £3,537 for cataract surgery. It has been proven that location is one of the key factors that play a role in determining surgery prices in the UK. Location influences a practice’s ancillary costs, which in turn has a direct bearing on other costs, such as staff and facility fees.
It comes as no surprise that central London is home to some of the most expensive anaesthetic and nursing specialists. Another factor that influences pricing is the type of surgery. Conventional cataract surgery is significantly cheaper that laser-assisted cataract surgery. This applies to different facilities, including Sight Clinic.
When it comes to laser-assisted surgery, there is a need to also consider the type of laser involved. The majority of clinics employ the femtosecond laser, which is more accurate but is significantly pricier.
Type of lens also contributes to variation in pricing. The majority of healthcare facilities use the intraocular lens while othesr offer premium lenses. Specialisation and level of experience can influence the prices that clinics charge.
An ophthalmologist first determines if your own unique condition requires surgery. They do this by conducting a comprehensive evaluation of your eyes and overall physical health to determine if you are a good candidate for the surgery/job.
Whilst it is true that Cataract surgery is a fairly straightforward procedure, there are risk factors that could make a person a poor candidate for Surgery.
Advanced age, an underlying medical condition and conditions that prohibit certain medications. For example, a cataract patient who also has macular degeneration and taking the drug Avastin may have a higher risk of bleeding than a normal person.
This could potentially mean that the doctor may need to take additional precautions to prevent this complication from occurring during the patients surgery.
If and when an Ophthalmologist determines that you are a good candidate, he (or she) will take refraction measurements to determine the amount of near-sightedness and far-sightedness that you have prior to having the surgery.
They will also take measurements of the curvature of your cornea and the length of the eye.
These measurements are necessary for the surgeon to determine the power of the intraocular lens.
Your doctor or surgeon will also explain to you what you can expect from the surgery, how long it will take and the risks involved to help you make an informed decision. During this time you can ask questions to clarify any information about the surgery.
The Role of Avastin in eye treatments
Avastin (bevacizumab) was originally designed to treat metastatic colorectal cancer, but doctors later discovered that its mechanism of action was ideal for treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retina disorders and diabetic eye disease. Doctors inject Avastin into the patient’s eye with the aim to slow down these diseases.
Also, Avastin has the capacity to deal with complications, such as central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO) and macular edema. It achieves this objective by counteracting the growth of abnormal blood vessels, which occurs in the back of the eye.
Abnormal growth of blood vessels can lead to leaks and eventually loss of vision. In America, many people aged 50 years and older become blind due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The condition is triggered by the breaking down of the central part of the retina, which is referred to as the macula. This portion of the eye is one of the most sensitive and it plays an integral role in the normal functioning of the eye by working like a film in a camera.
Macula makes it easier for people to recognize faces and cope with the demands of driving at night. Individuals can be affected by either dry or wet macular degeneration.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can cause an individual’s central vision to deteriorate without experiencing any pain in both eyes. Central vision is critical for focusing straight ahead. This form of eye disorder compromises a patient’s ability to read and recognise faces. Colours appear duller to anyone affected by the condition. However, the disorder does not affect peripheral vision.
Individuals should consult a physician when central vision starts to deteriorate. Some of the signs of AMD include blind spots in field of vision and distorted images. Ophthalmologists conduct thorough examinations before prescribing any necessary treatment. Sight Clinic is one of the practices that conduct eye tests using advanced equipment. This provides a sure-fire way to determine the cause of poor vision.
If AMD is detected, practitioners at Sight Clinic may treat the condition with Avastin.
Wet age-related macular degeneration or neovascular AMD is caused by the formation of abnormal blood vessels just below the macula. The vessels affect the normal functioning of the eye by damaging the macula’s cells. The condition is considered more serious when compared to dry macular degeneration because it can deteriorate in a matter of days.
Dry AMD, on the other hand, is triggered by the build-up of deposits known as drusen. The deposits have the capacity to damage the macula. As a result, individuals experience gradual vision loss, which may occur over several years. However, some of the people diagnosed with dry AMD later develop wet AMD as the condition worsens.
Women are more likely to developing age-related macular degeneration and it is more prevalent in white and Chinese people. Physicians recommend consuming more leafy green vegetables with the aim to slow down the progression of the disease.
Laser surgery is one of the practical treatment options available to patients diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration.