Diagnosing and Treating Cataracts

Dr. Baseer Khan, MD, FRCS(C), P.CEO, Ophthalmologist, discusses how cataracts are diagnosed and treated.

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Dr. Baseer Khan, MD, FRCS(C), P.CEO, Ophthalmologist, discusses how cataracts are diagnosed and treated.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Baseer Khan, MD, FRCS(C), P.CEO, Ophthalmologist Transcript

Duration: 3 minutes, 26 seconds Article

Cataracts are probably the most common condition that we see as ophthalmologists. There’s a common misconception that it’s a growth inside the eye – it’s not. It’s a natural clouding of the lens that we’re born with said Dr. Baseer Khan.

It happens as a result of age, so if you live long enough, you’re going to get a cataract. You know, people who have diabetes, maybe have been on steroids or have chronic inflammation inside their eye may develop cataracts early in life, but everybody will at some point.

The only way cataracts can be treated is with surgery. There’s no drops, there’s no laser, there’s only surgery. Surgery involves removing the natural lens of the eye, which is now cloudy, and replacing it with an artificial lens said Dr. Baseer Khan.

The reason we have to put an artificial lens in is because the natural lens provided a certain amount of power to the eye in order to focus. If we didn’t put a new artificial lens in, you wouldn’t be able to see anything at all, except for with very high-powered glasses said Dr. Baseer Khan.

There are three reasons to do cataract surgery. The first is because it’s medically necessary, which means that there’s some reason, medically speaking, that we need to remove the cataract, either because the cataract is creating a problem, or it’s preventing us from seeing a problem in the back of the eye said Dr. Baseer Khan .

The second reason is because someone’s vision has fallen below the level required for driving, and if somebody wants to maintain their driver’s licence, they have to have their cataract removed. The third and the most common reason, really, is because someone’s not happy with their vision. So when someone says “I can no longer do the things that I enjoy doing”, whether it’s driving, golfing, watching TV, going to the movies, that’s probably the most of the time the reason we’re doing surgery said Dr. Baseer Khan .

There’s two ways that are commonly used in North America to remove a cataract, and that is using a manual method, meaning all the incisions are made inside and outside the eye by hand and with a blade. Or, a laser can be used to make those incisions as well. And that is called femtosecond-assisted cataract surgery. Both surgeries still require surgeons to be inside the eye and both surgeries still require an intraocular lens said Dr. Baseer Khan.

It’s important to know the risks of surgery that you’re thinking about, and cataract surgery has risks. It’s very safe overall, it’s one of the safest surgeries that medicine has available today, but there are still some risks. Overall, if you talk to most clinicians, they’ll tell you that 95% of patients will see better after surgery, 4% of patients will see the same, 1% of patients will see worse, and there’s a 1/1,000 chance that you might lose your vision to bleeding or infection said Dr. Baseer Khan.

The reality is though that the odds are probably much better than that, and unless you have any specific challenges with your surgery – and your surgeon will let you know, you have a very, very good chance of seeing better after surgery said Dr. Baseer Khan.

The best way to find out if you have a cataract and if that’s the problem that’s giving you a challenge with your vision is to visit your local optometrist, and they can refer you to a local surgeon who does cataract surgery. It’s really important to keep in mind that the lens that you choose and the surgery that you have is going to be permanent, and make sure that you educate yourself on all the different options that are available to you said Dr. Baseer Khan.

Presenter: Dr. Baseer Khan, Ophthalmologist, Vaughan, ON

Local Practitioners: Ophthalmologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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