Cataract surgery involves replacing the cloudy lens with an intraocular implant in order to restore clear vision with the help of cataract surgery instruments set. What does the intervention consist of? What are the different types of implants? Find out all you need to know about cataracts and their surgery.
What is a cataract?
Cataracts are very common eye conditions. It affects more than one in five people, usually over the age of 60. Cataract is a loss of transparency of the lens causing a gradual drop in vision. This clouding of the lens is directly linked to the aging of the macula, the central area of the retina. This is because the normal aging process can cause the lens to harden and cloudy.
Cataracts are manifested by the following symptoms:
- Decreased visual acuity;
- Reduced sensitivity to contrasts;
- Visual symptoms such as discomfort in bright light or the appearance of a haze.
The diagnosis of cataracts is made by an ophthalmologist after a slit lamp examination of lens opacities. This examination makes it possible to define the type of cataract and its grade.
There are several types of cataracts:
Nuclear cataract: it affects the center of the nucleus of the lens which becomes opaque. Nuclear cataracts are the most common and appear between the ages of 60 and 80.
Capsular cataract: it affects younger people, most often between 50 and 70 years old. Its evolution is much faster than for a nuclear cataract. It is due to a clouding under the posterior or anterior capsule of the lens.
Cortical cataract: it is characterized by opacities which are found on the periphery and are located in the cortex of the lens. It can develop slowly at all ages.
What are the causes of cataracts?
Cataracts occur naturally with age. It is caused by a change in the chemical composition of the lens. There can be other causes for the development of a cataract. Heredity, or birth defects, can be responsible for the onset of early cataracts. Also, prolonged use of corticosteroids, excessive consumption of tobacco and / or alcohol as well as exposure to ultraviolet and infrared rays can increase the risk of cataracts. Finally, high myopia is a cause of early cataracts sometimes from the age of 50 years.
An untreated cataract can lead to complications such as glaucoma by enlarging the lens of the eye. This is why it is essential to carry out regular ophthalmological monitoring in order to provide an appropriate response to this pathology.
How to treat cataracts?
The diagnosis of cataracts is carried out in order to measure the exact impact of the cataract on vision, and to ensure the absence of other ocular pathology. The ophthalmologist will precisely measure the dimensions of the eye and also calculate the power of the cataract implant that will need to be placed to replace the lens in the capsular bag located in the posterior chamber of the eye.
Systematically, a cataract implant is placed during the surgery through cataract surgery instruments set. For the realization of these implants, flexible materials are used. They have shape memory, which allows them to be injected through a small corneal incision. Most of these implants have properties of transparency, lightness and longevity and are made of hydrophilic or hydrophobic acrylic materials.
Today, the cataract implant has benefited from many innovations. Several ranges of implants have specific properties, in particular giving them an optical quality comparable to that of a young and transparent lens. The implant for treating cataracts can be monofocal, multifocal or toric.
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