Cataracts are the most common and important cause of vision loss worldwide, constituting one of the main indications for elective surgery in people over 50 years of age.
The mechanisms involved in the formation of cataracts and the different risk factors have been duly identified by ophthalmologists. Knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the lens, the structure where the cataract originates, together with the development of sophisticated surgical technology have made cataract treatment very cost-effective and the recovery rapid in most cases.
Cataracts are a disease whose main risk factor is age. Various diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, along with external factors such as tobacco, alcohol, and malnutrition, may be involved in the development of a cataract. They can also develop due to trauma, inflammatory eye disease such as uveitis, and as a side effect of medications.
Less frequently, certain cataracts occur in younger patients and usually appear after prolonged corticosteroid intake, after trauma, due to inflammatory processes, high myopia, or in the context of retinal disease.
The lens is a unique organ in terms of its anatomy and physiology. Throughout life, its primary functions are to maintain its transparency, preserve vision, and filter ultraviolet light.
The optical quality of the lens degrades with time. From around the age of 65, there is a slow and continuous loss of visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and intolerance to glare. The power of accommodation diminishes, and binocular vision and color discrimination are altered.
Cataract treatment with surgery
Cataract surgery has shown to have a relevant result on health, as cataracts are one of the most frequent diseases. With a single surgical act, patients go from almost total blindness to practically normal vision. The speed of functional recovery distinguishes this operation from other surgeries with less brilliant results since it successfully improves visual acuity and reduces functional disability, thus, significantly enhancing the quality of life for patients.
Cataract surgery has evolved significantly throughout the history of ophthalmology. Technological advances in ophthalmic surgery have increased the success of this operation, offering visual results never achieved before.
Currently, cataract surgery is performed through microscopic corneal incisions using the phacoemulsification technique. Phacoemulsification is a method that uses ultrasonic energy to remove the cataract. Although some believe that this surgery is performed with laser technology, in reality, the laser is only used in particular cases to perform specific steps of the operation.
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