The term cataract defines a disease of the eye, in which the lens is clouded. The cloudiness appears slowly and is accompanied by symptoms such as blinding or foggy vision and which get stronger through time. In 90% of all cases the disease is caused by age and to people of the age of 60 or older. In a few cases the cataract is caused by injuries to the eye or a medical treatment.
Patients describe an advanced cataract as blurry, milky vision. The only possible treatment is surgery, which promises very few complications if the patient is not affected by other diseases to the eye. This surgery is the most common operation in Switzerland and is done up to 60’000 times yearly.
The diagnosis is swiftly done. The examination with a slit lamp, in which the outer side of the eye is observed under a microscope, is usually sufficient. The doctor can determine the extent and situation of the disease in the eye with the help of directed light, which makes an optical cut through the eye.
The therapy of a cataract requires surgery, in which the cloudy lens is removed. There two technical options: the extracapsular cataract extraction or phacoemulsification. The surgery is done with local anaesthesia. Cataract glasses, contact lenses, or artificial intraocular lenses offer various options to replace the function of the extracted and affected lens. Intraocular lenses are the most common solution as it works smoothly and for a lifetime.
After a cataract surgery precautions need to be taken. Pressure to the eye, competitive sport, physical labour, sauna, and swimming have to be avoided.
There are no precautions to a cataract, as it is most commonly part of the aging process or can be caused by a genetic disposition. Smoking adds to the risk.