Christmas Tree Cataract
Most of us enjoy seeing the world around us without a second thought. At this festive time seeing our family, enjoying the views on a crisp winter mornings walk and snuggling up to watch a movie are taken for granted. Not everyone is as fortunate as this as globally up to 12 million people have preventable sight loss due to cataracts. Cataracts are a descriptive term that describe the whitening of the lens inside the eye. The word cataract is though to originate from the Latin cataracta, meaning ‘waterfall’ when water turns white.
In the UK cataracts are primarily a result of ageing. It is thought that 20% of sixty year olds and 60% of eighty year olds have visually significant cataracts. Cataracts can take many forms depending the causes which can include medication such as steroids, medical conditions like diabetes and sometimes can be inherited
Cataracts do not resolve on their own or with medicines and usually progress with time. The rate of worsening is highly variable and notoriously diﬃcult to judge. One of the commonest questions I am asked is are my cataracts ‘ready for surgery’. Thankfully, modern cataract or lens surgery is very safe and effective at restoring clarity and at the same time minimising your dependence on glasses.
So, the question I often ask back is, ‘are you ready for surgery!?’
The right time to choose surgery is when you are being limited by your sight in your activities and you are well versed in both the benefits and the risks.
Modern lenses can help restore reading vision and at the same time correct distance vision. Therefore, lens replacement surgery can be offered to patients over 50 without a cataract to reduce dependence on glasses. For patients who are keen to be without glasses for most tasks, including reading, trifocal lenses are an excellent option. When distance and intermediate vision is a priority, a newer generation of lenses described as ‘extended depth of focus’ work very well.
Astigmatism correction is a routine part of the procedure. Large glasses prescriptions (or refractive errors) can be corrected with fully customised lens calculations. One of the largest prescriptions that I have corrected recently had 29D of short sightedness (myopia) and 9D of astigmatism, you can read further about this story online.
For patients who have already had cataract surgery, but still need glasses, lenses that can correct both near and distance vision can be implanted with a relatively simple procedure. The procedure takes approximately 15 mins and most patient are seeing well the next day although it takes up to four weeks to recover fully. The cloudy lens inside the eye is removed through a tiny incision, usually not more than 2.2mm in size, using an ultrasound device that liquefies the hardened lens.
One specific type of cataract appearance is called a Christmas tree cataract due to the way the light reflects off the crystals that have formed within the lens. Mr Modgill, a renowned retired local surgeon, recently underwent cataract surgery with Dr Musa with extended depth of focus lenses to both eyes. He is now able to drive, play golf and read newspapers without the need for glasses. He underwent surgery in the very same theatre that he opened over 25 years ago! Many of the theatre staff had been previous colleagues.