Cataract- Treatment

It appears that there is only one method of cataract treatment- surgery.

There are two types of cataract surgery. Your doctor can explain the differences and help determine which is better for you:

1. Phacoemulsification, or phaco. A small incision is made on the side of the cornea, the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. Your doctor inserts a tiny probe into the eye. This device emits ultrasound waves that soften and break up the lens so that it can be removed by suction. Most cataract surgery today is done by phacoemulsification, also called “small incision cataract surgery.”

2. Extracapsular surgery. Your doctor makes a longer incision on the side of the cornea and removes the cloudy core of the lens in one piece. The rest of the lens is removed by suction.

After the natural lens has been removed, it often is replaced by an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL). An IOL is a clear, plastic lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of your eye. Light is focused clearly by the IOL onto the retina, improving your vision. You will not feel or see the new lens.

Some people cannot have an IOL. They may have another eye disease or have problems during surgery. For these patients, a soft contact lens, or glasses that provide high magnification, may be suggested.

Also, an Alternative Medicine view


Because free radicals have been implicated as a cause of cataracts, alternative therapies emphasize the importance of a healthful diet, nutritional supplements and/or herbal remedies to prevent and slow down the progression of cataracts.

Nutritional therapy

A naturopathic doctor or a nutritionist may recommend the following dietary changes:

· Reduce consumption of salty or fatty foods. Diabetics should also limit their intake of milk and other dairy products.

· Increase intake of foods that are high in beta-carotene: peaches, apricots, berries, carrots, and leafy green vegetables. Beta-carotene and other antioxidants can protect against or slow down the development of cataracts.

· Stop cigarette smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.

· Take supplemental vitamin C (1 g three times daily) and vitamin A (25,000 IU per day).

· Take supplemental beta-carotene (25,000-100,000 IU per day) and selenium (400 mcg per day).

Herbal therapy

There are two herbal remedies that may help protect the eyes against cataracts:

· Bilberries (40-80 mg daily). Early research indicates that eating bilberries may halt cataract progression.

· Hachimijiogan. Hachimijiogan is an ancient Chinese herbal formula. Animal studies suggest that it may protect the eyes against cataracts by increasing the glutathione content of the lens.

Allopathic (homeopathic) treatment

Cataracts that cause no symptoms or only minor visual changes may not require any treatment. An ophthalmologist or optometrist should continue to monitor and assess the cataract at scheduled office visits. Stronger prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses may be helpful.

Cataract surgery is the only option for patients whose cataracts interfere with vision to the extent of affecting their daily lives. It is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States. It generally improves vision in over 90% of patients. Some people have heard that a cataract should be “ripe” before being removed. A “ripe” or mature cataract means that the lens is completely opaque. Most cataracts are removed before they reach that stage. Sometimes cataracts need to be removed so that the doctor can examine the back of the eye more carefully. Patients with diseases that may affect the eye may require cataract surgery for this reason. If cataracts are present in both eyes, only one eye at a time should be operated on. Healing occurs in the first eye before the second cataract is removed, sometimes as early as the following week. A final eyeglass prescription is usually given about four to six weeks after surgery. Patients will still need reading glasses. The overall health of the patient needs to be considered in making the decision to operate. Age alone, however, need not preclude effective surgical treatment of cataracts; people in their 90s can benefit from cataract surgery.


~ by pcl4 on August 28, 2008.

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