A change in the chemical composition of the lens causes a cataract. The most common cause of cataracts is the ageing of the crystalline lens which causes it to harden and opacify. The senile cataract can appear at age 60.
There are other causes such as heredity, or congenital malformation, which can cause early onset of cataracts. General diseases, such as diabetes or certain metabolic disorders (calcium metabolism) can also cause the appearance of a cataract.
Long-term use of corticosteroids, chronic smoking, and prolonged sun exposure without UV protection are also known risk factors for cataracts. In younger patients, trauma (wound or contusion) is the leading cause of cataracts. Heredity and some congenital malformations are also responsible for early cataracts, as is strong myopia, sometimes in a patient’s fifties.
Except in special cases, surgeons perform cataract surgery on an outpatient basis (without hospitalization). The patient stays about 3 hours at the clinic.
We do not operate on the two eyes on the same day but at 8 to 15 days apart. One hour before surgery, we dilate your pupil with eye drops. We instil anaesthetic eye drops to numb your eyes. We make a small incision in your eye, break up your lens by fragmentation and aspirate the lens through an incision that is at most 2 millimetres.
We then replace your natural lens with an intraocular implant, whose power we have calculated beforehand. We then inject the folded artificial lens into the space where your natural lens had been, and then unfold and settle the artificial lens inside the eye.
Thanks to local anaesthesia, you remain conscious during the whole procedure which lasts between 10 and 30 minutes. You then leave the clinic after a snack. Your vision in the operated eye will be blurry but you’re able to move around without difficulty. With that said, it is better if someone accompanies you home.
There is no medical treatment (eye drops or medications) that can cure a cataract; therefore we must remove the affected lens and replace it with an artificial one.
In the absence of cataract surgery, the progressive opacification of the crystalline lens may lead to a decrease in vision, and a loss of your autonomy. Also, the increase in the volume of the ageing lens could be a source of increased intraocular pressure. Cataract surgery involves replacing your natural lens with an artificial lens or intraocular implant.
We calculate the power of this implant for each eye to compensate for the optical power of the lens while associating the correction of refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism) and possibly presbyopia.
With the development of multifocal lenses, cataract surgery has become a refractive surgery. It is also possible to replace the crystalline lens that can still be clear with a high-tech implant to restore optical properties that will give you freedom from glasses and contact lenses for most of your activities.