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Cataract Surgery – opening windows to the world

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We will begin our talk today by defining in simple terms what a cataract is and identifying at the same time a few anatomical structures of the eye.

The human eye is divided into two chambers, anterior and posterior which are separated from each other by a structure called crystalline. This crystalline is found in the form of a lens with a shape similar to a lentil pea and this is what enables the eye to focus images unto the retina. When this crystalline or lens loses its transparency or turns opaque, it is called a cataract. {{more}}

There are various types of cataracts for example congenital cataract (acquired before birth or in the first year of life), metabolic cataract (seen in diabetic patients), cataract immunological, secondary cataract, (due to inflammatory processes, post glaucoma/retina surgery), traumatic cataract (accidents) and senile cataracts (seen in patients 60 years and over).

The most frequent cataract of the above mentioned are the senile ones which would appear in about ninety-five percent of persons over seventy years old with twenty-five percent of the same requiring surgery.

Amongst the measures that we can take to prevent or prolong its appearance are; a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, vitamin supplements especially B complex and D and the use of protective sunglasses that block the ultra-violet radiations of the sun.

As we have mentioned before, senile cataract is a normal part of the aging process. Once it is diagnosed through various tests done by the ophthalmologist, there is only one solution – SURGERY, where the opaque crystalline or lens is removed and replaced by an artificial lens.

I am frequently asked- when is the best moment for surgery? It is commonly accepted that the most appropriate moment is when the patient cannot perform their daily tasks because of poor vision and this goes for a pilot, surgeon, manual labourer, house-wife or retiree.

Today there are many modern and exciting techniques for cataract surgery for example phacoemulsification and Blumenthal technique, the latter being practiced for several years in Cuba with excellent results, and actually done weekly at the MCMH. Some of the advantages of this technique are that is a quick and safe surgery, there is no need for stitches, and the recuperation time is approximately three weeks which previously used to be four months with extreme care and several doctor visits.

We have reprinted this article for a second time due to numerous requests by our patients and also

in accordance with the screening programme being done presently by our friends from Cuba.

• Dr. Pedro A.F. Suarez is a Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Minton Cato Memorial Hospital. He is a member of the National Cataract Surgery Team of Cuba.

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