What is a cataract? A simple, non clinical description.

What is a cataract?  A simple, non clinical description.

There are a million medical, wordy descriptions of cataract and highly graphic surgical videos online but I try very hard in clinic to keep things SIMPLE!

Albeit casual, this is verbatim what I tell patients - as I doodle on my whiteboard many times per day - to explain what a cataract is…

Please view the video and then the transcript will make more sense.

Approximate Transcript “This is the side of your eye.  If you had your glasses on, your glasses would be out front here….   When you look at anything… like the ‘E’ on my chart… the light from the chart will first pass through your glasses and then hit the cornea… the front surface of the eye.   Inside your eye, there is the iris (the coloured part the you see in the mirror) and the pupil (the black hole in the middle).  Behind where you can see there is a lens.   The lens is responsible to focus this beam of light to the retina at the back of the eye.   So, if everything goes according to plan… the light from the ‘E’ should pass through your glasses, the cornea, the pupil, the lens and form a nice sharp image of a letter ‘E’ at the back of the eye.   However, when you have cataract, the light scatters as it passes through the lens.  The scattered light degrades the image and things are unclear.     The only way to get you to see better is to remove this cloudy natural lens and replace it with a clear artificial lens… then the light will again pass cleanly through and you will see a clear letter ‘E’."

Additional points:   
1] When you have cataract, it does not matter what we do with glasses out front because the light still gets mucked up when it hits the cloudy lens.
2] The new lens will have a different power than your old lens.   The surgeon’s goal will be to choose a new power which will have you seeing well in the distance without glasses. 

Last modified onThursday, 02 April 2020 12:44
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