By Tang Hui Yi Angela, Optometrist, Singapore Medical Specialist Centre, Singapore

A cataract is a progressive clouding of one’s natural crystalline lens in the eye. It is an unavoidable part of the ageing process. Occurring commonly in adults over 45, it causes symptoms such as decrease in vision, contrast sensitivity and colour vision. It can occur in one or both eyes of an individual.

Dr Daphne Han Chuk Yin, senior consultant ophthalmologist at Singapore Medical Specialist Centre, kicked off the 2019 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) programme for optometrists and opticians at Farer Park Hospital by giving the first talk titled “Management of Cataracts in Routine and Special Cases”. The lecture was held at the TK Low Academic Specialist Centre on 5 January 2019.

In her talk, Dr Han discussed the different types of cataract as well as their causes and management. The mainstay of treatment for visually significant cataract is surgery.

Using slides and videos, Dr Han shared how phacoemulsification, the most popular method for cataract surgery, is performed. Only a tiny incision is necessary to allow emulsification and removal of the cloudy lens as well as insertion of the lens implant. Dr Han also highlighted the use of femtosecond laser to perform femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS). Some surgeons believe this bladeless procedure is more precise and accurate, allowing patients to achieve a better postoperative outcome.

Dr Han also shared with the audience the various type of intraocular lens implants that are available in the market. Depending on the patient’s visual needs, these implants are able to correct vision either for one particular distance or both distance and near. Dr Han stressed the importance of a careful eye examination and understanding the visual needs and lifestyle of the patients before recommending a particular type of implant.

In a nutshell, cataract surgery is a generally safe procedure and takes less than half an hour to complete. One should consider a cataract surgery when work or leisure is affected by impaired vision from cataract.