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Truth and lies about cataracts

A cataract is a widespread eye disorder that mostly affects elderly people. There are many rumors about cataracts. They talk about it in hospital waiting lines, on benches near doorways, and on Internet forums… What to believe and what to be skeptical about? Let’s find out!

Cataracts can make you blind

Unfortunately, this is true. A cataract is an irreversible process; once started, the disease will progress. A gradual decrease in visual acuity can lead to complete blindness in the long term.

According to medical statistics, 12% of patients diagnosed with cataracts develop the disease very quickly, within 4 to 6 years. In 15% of patients, there is a slow progression, averaging 10 to 15 years. And 70% of patients develop cataracts within 6 to 10 years.

Cataracts can be cured by yourself

Ophthalmologists are categorical: this is a lie! You cannot buy a cure for cataracts in a pharmacy, make one yourself, or order one on the Internet, believing the promising advertisements. It is impossible to reverse the lens opacity by applying drops, powders, pills, and mixtures, just as, for example, it is impossible to make a boiled egg raw again.

A really reliable and effective way to get rid of the disease is only through cataract surgery. This is a true gem in ophthalmosurgery that completely rehabilitates and restores all visual functions lost due to disease. Today, the most important stages of such surgery can be performed using the amazing capabilities of the femtosecond laser. The unparalleled precision, the gentlest, most delicate impact on the eye structures, and a short recovery period are just some of the advantages of femtosecond laser cataract treatment.

Cataract surgery requires maturation

That used to be true, but these days it’s different. Indeed, one used to wait for the cataract to mature, meaning that a person had to actually go blind before he or she could be operated on. Technical possibilities allowed removing the lens once it had become dense and completely opaque. Modern diagnostic and microsurgical equipment allows detecting and performing cataract surgery at an early stage! Hence, there is no need to refuse a habitual way of life because of a bad vision since modern ophthalmology offers reliable means for solving this condition. Delaying the surgery is also worthwhile because the cataract could trigger secondary glaucoma in its advanced stages. In fact, the lens often becomes not only cloudy but also grows in size, which leads to intraocular fluid outflow and an increase in intraocular pressure. This is very dangerous because glaucoma results in an irreversible loss of vision.

Cataract surgery is contraindicated in glaucoma

Cataract extraction was indeed contraindicated in the case of glaucoma in the past. but today, thanks to the development of new technologies in ophthalmosurgery, the situation has changed. In cases of cataract complicated by glaucoma, it is common to undergo two simultaneous surgeries, one for glaucoma and the other for cataract extraction. In cases where glaucoma develops due to an increase in the size of the crystalline lens, it is often enough to extract the affected lens and implant an intraocular lens. This allows normalizing the intraocular pressure and stopping the further development of glaucoma without additional anti-glaucoma surgeries.

You can get rid of cataracts and glasses at the same time

Yes, it’s true. If intraocular lenses with several focal spots (called multifocal) are implanted during the surgery, this really allows achieving maximal visual acuity both at close and far distances, and in the absence of any pathology of the retina or optic nerve affecting the visual functions, this allows getting rid of glasses at all. The doctor can only say whether such intraocular lenses are suitable for the patient’s eyes after a thorough preoperative examination of the visual system.
Generally speaking, modern intraocular lenses are similar in their optical properties to those of natural crystalline lens. They have a yellow filter that protects the retina from ultraviolet light, and their design usually includes an aspherical component, which makes it possible to obtain clear, sharp images both during the day and night. Artificial lenses not only remove cataracts but also correct myopia or hyperopia, thus eliminating refractive errors that a person may have suffered from throughout his/her life. That is, after implantation, one can see better than in the youth!

You have to stay in the hospital too long to get rid of cataracts

This is not true. Today, you don’t need to stay in the hospital, although the situation was different 15-20 years ago. Back then, surgeons used to extract the lens through a large incision and stitch it up, and this complex surgery certainly required a long recovery period with lots of restrictions. Now surgical cataract treatment is performed without hospitalization, on an out-patient basis. The patient may go home after a short rest. The patient should come to the clinic the next day for a control medical check-up, where the attending physician will make a schedule of appointments and determine procedures for applying special eye drops.

After the surgery, the patient does not need any special care. The patient may enjoy good vision in a couple of hours, and the complete visual stabilization takes place within several days. Restrictions during the recovery period are minimal. One must keep the eyes away from excessive strain, avoid sudden temperature changes and rubbing, avoid sudden bends, and try not to abuse alcoholic drinks during the first month after the intervention. You can read books and watch movies, knit sweaters and scarves, enjoy your favorite meals, and do many other things as usual after consulting with your doctor!

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