Causes and risk factors
Cataract is a condition characterized by the progressive and constant opacification of the lens of the eye. This alteration is usually age-related (senile cataract), but there can be many causes. In fact, there are also congenital forms (present as early as birth) due to genetic factors, infectious processes (e.g., rubella and toxoplasmosis contracted during pregnancy), metabolic disorders and exposure to radiation.
Which are the symptoms?
At first, cataracts do not cause noticeable discomfort, but later in the course of its development the following discomfort occurs:
- blurred vision;
- perception of halos around light sources;
- difficulty in vision in very bright places;
- change in the visual defect one had previously.
How is it diagnosed?
In all cases, it is always advisable to make an appointment with the ophthalmologist to have a complete checkup and check for cataracts.
How is it treated?
We used to have surgery when the patient could no longer see. Now the surgery will be indicated when the clouding of the lens goes to disturb the normal activities performed by the patient in daily life.
Currently, there are two types of surgeries to remove the opaque lens and replace it with a new intraocular lens:
- the phacoemulsification technique, which is more traditional;
- the laser-assisted technique.
It is referred to as the phacoemulsification technique and uses an ultrasound probe to fragment and aspirate cataracts. A new lens is then inserted to replace the opaque one removed.
It is the most widely performed technique worldwide, on an outpatient basis, allowing the patient to go home about an hour after surgery. Visual recovery is very rapid and trauma to the eye is reduced.
This technique uses the femtosecond laser, which makes it possible to:
- perform corneal cutting by monitoring its extent and depth;
- educe the occurrence of postoperative astigmatism.
It also allows for a perfectly circular opening of the lens capsule resulting in more precise positioning of the new intraocular lens and, as a final step, fragments the lens to allow for smoother and easier aspiration.
The advantages over the traditional technique are:
- greater precision as the laser performs corneal cutting and capsulorhexis;
- less use of ultrasound and less trauma;
- less inflammatory reaction;
- faster visual recovery.
Topical anesthesia, i.e., with anesthetic drops, is given for both operations, and postoperative checkups are performed within two days after the operation, then after one week, and finally within one month after the operation.