By Dr S.S. Gill
Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about CATARACT examination.
Firstly, do remember to take a pair of sunglasses along with you when you go in for an eye examination. Be prepared to go through several steps through an eye examination. You will initially be made to read a chart from a distance to find out how well you see. A slit-lamp examination is then done in order to look for other unrelated eye problems that you may have such as dry eye, eye infections or other eye diseases. Tonometry, or eye pressure, checking forms a mandatory part of the eye examination. This is to find out whether you have glaucoma or not since such problems would have to be controlled before embarking on any cataract operation.
Pupil dilating by instilling eye drops into the eye is a must because the lens (which becomes opaque to form a cataract) cannot be viewed well until the pupils are dilated. The process of dilating your pupils may take anything between 30 minutes in a healthy person’s eyes or sometimes even up to 90 minutes for some other patients.
Most notably, diabetic patients take pretty long for their pupils to dilate. So, if you are a diabetic, patience at the consultation room would be to your advantage or you may blow a fuse with all that waiting! There is no shortcut to this part of the eye examination.
Once your pupils are dilated, the next part of the eye examination may be uncomfortable for some patients who may be more sensitive to glare but rest assured it won’t kill you! The retina (nerve at the back of the eye) will also be examined since an unhealthy retina could also contribute to poor vision. Knowing you have a healthy retina before going in for a cataract operation is comforting because it allows the eye surgeon to predict on the visual outcome following cataract operation.
Following the doctor’s verdict on whether you have a cataract or not, the sunglasses you brought along will now come in handy as you make your way home. If you are one of those sensitive individuals who cannot tolerate glare, then arrange your spouse, family member or friend to drive you home after the examination.
Should you have a cataract, it does not mean you have to go for a cataract operation immediately on the same day, much less on the same week! It is never a life and death situation unless of course you are half-blind. So, do not be hasty. Medical problems like diabetes mellitus and hypertension must be well controlled before embarking on surgery. Always inform the doctor about any underlying medical problems, past surgeries, previous traumas and current medications that you may be taking as some adjustments may need to be done before cataract surgery.