By G.W. Kannangara
For many years I consulted a ‘not so well known’ eye doctor, who had the time and patience to examine and explain the relevant details. He advised me to visit him every six months, but by an oversight I failed to do so for over a year.
During this time, I developed difficulty in reading at length and felt a discomfort in the eyes towards evening. Since I was on medication for diabetes and other ailments, many friends advised me to get an eye-scan and to consult a leading eye specialist in Colombo, which I did. This famous doctor after examination ruled out glaucoma but diagnosed other complications for which she referred me to another leading household name in the field of eye surgery.
The consultation chambers of this gentleman was very crowded. He had very little time for each patient. He confirmed I had an advanced cataract in my left eye and a not-so-advanced cataract in the right eye. He further stated my right retina is very weak. He suggested that we remove the cataract in the left eye as soon as possible and to attend to the cataract in the right eye later. The surgery was fixed for July 30.
As I was not too satisfied about the manner of the consultation, I decided to go for a second opinion. I went to another leading eye specialist in Colombo. Upon examining both eyes, I was diagnosed with an advanced cataract in the right eye. I informed him that I was diagnosed by another doctor a few days ago, who said I have an advanced cataract in the left eye. He insisted the cataract was in the right eye and also confirmed I had a weak retina in the right eye. The operation for cataract in the right eye was scheduled for July 16.
These two conflicting opinions by two of the topmost eye surgeons in Colombo was very disturbing. I was due to visit my family in Singapore. I discussed on the phone this dilemma I was facing. It was suggested to get a third opinion in Singapore.
Upon arrival in Singapore, I met a consultant eye surgeon attached to the Singapore National Eye Centre. This specialist doctor did a thorough examination, supported by several tests on both eyes, including a testing of my current spectacle lenses. The surgeon categorically stated there was no need for surgery in either of the eyes, as there was no cataract in both. The retina in the right eye had slight spotting, which was not cause for alarm, considering my age. He advised me to protect the eyes.
I inquired about the reasons for the discomfort in the eyes; preventing prolonged reading, difficultly faced in driving and the general irritability. He said “I will prescribe new lenses, which is all you need”. Having done that I am now feeling much better. I cancelled both the appointments for the surgery scheduled with the two Sri Lankan doctors. It is my desire to share this experience with the general public, as I now feel there might be many patients who would face the scalpel unnecessarily, at great expense.
Anyone who wishes to know more details can contact me through the editor of the paper.
1. Early stages – change prescription
2. Late stages – surgical removal
It is 90% effective for age-related cataracts
For secondary, traumatic and congenital cataracts, surgery is not always an option.
Protein clumps together.
Small areas of lens begin to cloud.
Light is blocked from reaching the retina and vision is impaired.
You would be able to see light and dark and maybe distinguish large objects and see movement.
An advanced stage cataract would be something like putting sheets of wax paper over your glasses.
Once a cataract begins to develop there is nothing that can be done to prevent its growth.
Types of Cataracts
There are four different types of cataracts:
1. Age-related cataract: Most cataracts are related to aging
2. Congenital cataracts: Some babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes. These can lead to blindness or may not affect vision at all.
3. Secondary cataract: Development in people who have certain other health issues, such as diabetes or things such as steroid use.
4. Traumatic cataract: Cataracts which develop after an eye injury.
What causes a Cataract?
This is a somewhat complicated subject. Aging of the lens is caused by oxidation (the formation of free radicals) Free Radicals: A molecule which has lost an electron and will do anything to get it back. They attack the protein of the lens, steal a hydrogen and cause oxidative damage. This leads to a snowball effect. The protein then clumps together and the lens begins to cloud, blocking some light from reaching the retina and clouding vision.
Speed of oxidation is increased by:
1. Smoking /Alcohol use.
3. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet sunlight.
Cloudy, fuzzy, foggy or filmy vision.
Changes in the way you see colours.
Problems driving at night because headlights seem too bright.
Problems with glare from lamps or the sun.
Frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription.
Better near vision in those who are far-sighted. (As the lens becomes cloudier the optics of the eye change. This may actually allow people who once needed glasses to be able to read without them.)
Visual acuity test: An eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
Pupil dilation: The pupil is widened with eye drops to allow your eye doctor to see more of the lens and retina and look for other eye problems.
Tonometry: This is a standard test to measure fluid pressure inside the eye.