What you need to know about cataracts

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the lens, which is caused by the aging process, blunt trauma or some systemic diseases. Some people experience blurry vision, haziness, double vision, difficulty with night driving and sensitivity to light. In a normal eye, light passes through the clear lens and is focused on the back of the eye. In an eye with a cataract, the lens becomes cloudy or foggy and vision becomes distorted. When your day-to-day activity is affected by decreasing vision, it may be time to have cataract surgery. The only way to treat a cataract is by removing the lens.

How is it treated?

When the cataract interferes with normal daily activities, you can be referred to an ophthalmologist to have it removed surgically. During surgery, ultrasonic waves break down the lens material and the surgeon removes it through a very small opening. An intraocular lens (IOL) is then implanted to replace the natural lens. There are two types of lenses on the market and your surgeon will discuss with you which type would best suit your eye condition and your lifestyle.

What is an intraocular lens?

An intraocular lens is an artificial lens for the eye, also called an IOL, which replaces the eye's natural lens during cataract surgery.

How will an IOL affect my vision?

IOLs come in many different strengths, just like prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. Your doctor will determine which lens is best for your eye.

What is an IOL made of?

Commonly, IOLs are made of acrylic or silicone material.

Are there any complications after having an IOL implanted?

The success rate is excellent. Complications are rare and most can be treated. Retinal detachment, infection, inflammation, elevated intraocular pressure may occur.

Is it ever necessary to replace an IOL?

Your eye will normally tolerate an IOL very well. Only rarely would an IOL have to be replaced.

For more information about cataracts, please visit the Eye Care Centre of
Excellence website

Source: Eye Care Centre of Excellence


About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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