There is no one treatment out there that can deal with every kind of cataract. Understanding how cataracts develop, and the different surgeries available, can help you make a more informed decision about how to deal with your own cataract.
How a Cataract Develops
You have proteins in your eye's lens. The formation of these proteins allow light to come through to your retina. A cataract develops when those proteins clump together and block light.
It's true the odds of developing a cataract can increase with age. However, various other things can cause a cataract to develop as well:
- Other eye conditions
- Certain diseases
- Prescription and illegal drugs
When the lens of your eye starts to lose its integrity, you will find yourself with a cataract. Anything that can cause damage to the eye can also eventually lead to a cataract.
Cataract surgery attempts to break up the cloudy lens, remove it, and replace it with an intraocular lens. However, just because there's a cataract doesn't mean that surgery is the only answer. It often depends on the type of cataract.
Secondary cataracts – These cataracts form as a response to a different eye or health issue.
Congenital cataracts – Sometimes, children are born with cataracts, or develop them early in life.
Traumatic cataracts – These cataracts form due to injury to the eye.
Sometimes, the cataracts are small or do not overly affect eyesight. In cases like that, it's not always necessary to seek surgery for the cataract. Eyeglasses are sometimes enough for dealing with small cataracts. In most cases though, surgery is the only answer for dealing with a cataract.
The Most Common Types of Cataract Surgery
Understand that all cataract surgery will require an incision and the placement of an intraocular lens. The only thing that changes between the different types of surgeries is the precise method used to remove the damaged lens. In addition, the eye surgeon may use either hand tools, such as a scalpel, or a laser for making the incision.
In general, there are two types of common cataract surgery procedures, and one uncommon form of advanced cataract surgery.
Phacoemulsification – This kind of surgery is the most common. It involves a small incision on the cornea. The surgeon places a small ultrasound device into it to break up the lens. Suction removes the pieces of lens, and the surgeon places the new intraocular lens.
Extracapsular – When the cataract is harder than normal, it's harder for ultrasound to break it up. This kind of surgery involves a longer incision so that the surgeon can remove the harder piece before breaking up the rest.
Intracapsular– Intracapsular cataract extraction (ICCE) is both an older and a more advanced technique for dealing with cataracts. It's reserved for rare and special cases. That's why you may never see mention of it when researching cataract surgeries. This form of surgery requires a far larger incision as its aim is to remove the lens and lens capsule in one piece.
Each type of surgery further breaks down by the different techniques and methods for carrying them out. Your optometrist can help you figure out which form of surgery is best for your specific circumstances. Knowing that there are different types of surgeries out there, make sure to ask why you should choose one over the other. Contact a clinic like Northwest Ophthalmology for more information.