When we are asked about medical conditions affecting our eyes, cataract is perhaps the first thing we mention and with enough reason. With a large number of people affected worldwide, cataract is in fact the number one cause of visual impairment. In Singapore, research has shown that approximately 95 percent of its population over the age of 70 and 80 percent of those aged 60 and up suffers from cataract. Given the figures, you can expect that everyone has at least one relative affected by the said eye condition-making cataract treatment in Singapore a very in-demand medical practice.
Cataract is best described as a condition where the lens of eyes becomes clouded due to the formation of protein deposits in the lens. In effect, vision is blurred or foggy and as the cataract develops further, the lesser is the light that passes through the eyes that will eventually lead to total blindness. Common factors that contribute to the likelihood of developing cataracts are the following:
- age – the older we get higher the likelihood
- family history
- severe injury, inflammatory condition, or prior eye surgery.
- long-term exposure to excessive UV radiation
- steroid therapy via oral, topically applied, or inhaled forms.
- diabetes that is not well-controlled,
- binge drinking.
Cataract surgery is the sole treatment for cataracts which involves the removal of the clouded lens and replacement with a clear artificial lens (a.k.a. Artificial intraocular lens or IOL). Cataract surgery is hailed as one of the safest from many surgical procedures. Here are the known ways to extract cataracts via surgery:
- Phacoemulsification (also known as small-incision) is considered as the conventional way of cataract removal which is widely used worldwide. In this method, by use of a blade, the eye specialist makes a tiny incision in the eye’s cornea and a small instrument is put in through this opening after. The said instrument is manipulated to reach behind the pupil of the eye to access the lens situated in a sort of capsule. Another tiny opening is then made where a probe that emits ultrasound is let through. The emitted ultrasound intends to liquify the cataract which is then siphoned out. The IOL will then be implanted. Without stitches, the procedure’s cut will mend completely on its own.
- Laser-assisted (bladeless) is comparable to phacoemulsification surgery, which uses ultrasound energy to destroy the cataract but a laser is used to replace some of the steps in the procedure. A femtosecond laser is used in this process which provides accurate and precise cataract removal, replacing the use of incisions made by hand.
- Extracapsular (also known as large-incision) is another way to remove cataract where the impaired lens is extracted in a single piece by making a larger incision on the side of the cornea. Although it’s less commonly used, doctors occasionally advise it to address bigger cataracts that worsen vision more than normal.
Although reports have shown its very high rate of success, cataract surgery still entails some risks like the danger of getting an eye infection and bleeding of the eyes, just like with any other surgical procedure. Also, there is a possibility of an occurrence of retinal detachment where the retina (located at the back area of the eye) pulls away from its location causing problems in vision. Other risks include swelling and inflammation inside the eye and aggravating the cases of other eye problems and failing to improve eyesight.
Although surgery is beneficial, it may not be necessary to have cataract surgery immediately because cataracts can take years to grow. The cataracts’ progression and performing everyday activities like driving and reading will determine whether surgery is required. Others would highly recommend seeking a second opinion before proceeding with the surgery. Here are few reasons why a second opinion is deemed wise and beneficial:
- The process involved is irreversible once undergone and a lot of aspects should be considered carefully.
- Cataract, although it might eventually lead to blindness, is not considered as an emergency where surgery should be done as soon as possible. Given this factor, a quick decision can be harmful.
- You can better evaluate your medical state and decide whether you require cataract surgery with the help of a second opinion.
- It gives a sense of reassurance in case of doubts or misgivings especially if the diagnosis was confirmed by another eye specialist
- It gives you a wider range of options in-case a different opinion/diagnosis was given by the second doctor.
- A second opinion is very important especially if suffering from serious illnesses or other pre-existing conditions as surgery might ensue a lot of complications including life-threatening ones.
- Seeking a second opinion especially from a more experienced or specialized eye surgeon will give you added understanding on cataract surgery and your options for treatment.
- If you are not satisfied with the diagnosis provided or your experience with the first doctor, a different might provide you a better experience and help in erasing your qualms.
- It helps you choose wisely if there are two or more options provided previously by getting a second opinion
- Other doctors might have a different view on your condition that can be a big factor for you to make a more informed decision on cataract surgery
But keep in mind that although it is your decision to seek a second opinion, it is best to still coordinate with your previous doctor. This way, you can easily ask for your medical records which include results of any tests you may have already undertaken to help in the diagnosis. It will be easier for your next doctor to understand your medical history and follow-through if all your medical records are available. Also, in making sure that your records are available, you might avoid having to take the tests again. Most likely, your first eye surgeon might even recommend another eye surgeon if you discuss your wish for a second opinion. Another reminder, seeking a second opinion does not mean changing doctors; you can still have your first doctor proceed with your treatment.
Asia Retina Eye Surgery Centre
#15-10 The Paragon
290 Orchard Rd
+65 6732 0007 | +65 9118 0007