PENANG: There is no running away from cataracts, the principal cause of blindness in the world.
It is just a matter of when it will happen after one has passed the age of 40.
And contrary to popular belief, cataracts is not a disease and cannot be prevented, treated or reversed, with the only proven solution being surgery to remove the cloudy lens inside the eye and replace it with an artificial lens (intraocular lens or IOL).
The most common cause of cataracts is advancing age when the protein in the lens starts to degenerate and clump together to cloud the lens.
Regular eye checks are important for early detection because the longer the delay, the higher the surgical risks.
Vista Eye Specialist senior consultant ophthalmologist, cataract and refractive surgeon Dr Ng Gim Leong said choosing the right artificial lens before a cataract surgery was important considering that each patient has specific visual needs and lifestyle expectations.
“There is a wide variety of premium IOLs to choose from, ranging from the conventional monofocal (for distance vision) to multifocal (near and distance) and the next generation trifocal.
“Trifocal provides excellent natural vision at all distances – near, intermediate and distance.
“It is also able to correct other refractive problems like astigmatism and improve night vision,” he explained.
Dr Ng said the intermediate segment was to view objects at arm’s length such as computers and smartphones. The requirement for this lens is increasing especially for those in the 50-60 age group.
“The IOLs can last a lifetime with no risks of rejection or inflammation. But patients with Age-Related Macular Degeneration, diabetic retinopathy or lazy eye cannot undergo this lens implant,” he said.
Dr Ng is one of the three speakers at the StarLIVE talk on Robotics Technology: The Latest Approach to Cataract Surgery to be held at Wawasan Open University’s Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik Auditorium on Nov 18.
The other speakers are his colleagues – consultant ophthalmologist, cataract and refractive surgeon Dr Anson Teh Yeong Han and consultant ophthalmologist, cataract and refractive surgeon Dr Neoh Yee Ling.
Dr Ng’s topic is on Glasses Free Vision with Trifocal Lens, Dr Teh will cover Robotic No-Blade Cataract Surgery while Dr Neoh will speak on the Top Seven Dangerous Myths about Cataract Surgery.
According to Dr Teh, people should remove the cataract once it begins to reduce their vision and affect their daily activities.
He said cataract surgery was now safer with more predictable outcomes with the minimally invasive Femtosecond Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery or No-Blade Cataract Surgery.
“The use of a Femtosecond laser (a powerful light beam) to replace many of the steps performed manually by a surgeon has resulted in a greater level of precision and consistency.
“When you have high precision and accuracy, the results are better, the risks are lower and recovery is faster.
“You only go for cataract surgery once, so it makes sense to go for the best option,” he said.
Dr Neoh said that though cataracts were the leading cause of vision loss worldwide, their cause and treatment were shrouded in myths passed down through generations.
She said the myths posed a significant challenge in treating cataracts and the resulting vision impairment, adding that patients would simply live with the condition without seeking treatment until they go blind.
“Much still needs to be done to create awareness, particularly in rural areas. If we cannot educate the older generation, we strive to at least educate the younger so they would bring their seniors for regular eye checks.
“Cataract blindness is preventable if one takes early action,” Dr Neoh said.
To register for the talk, go to http://starlive.eventbrite.com.