Cataract Surgery for Diabetics: Timing is Everything

According to the World Health Organization, 50 percent of people who have blindness lose their vision simply due to cataracts. A cataract is an eye disease characterised by clouding of the eye’s lens in old age. What are the causes of this disease, how to recognise symptoms in diabetes and treat cataracts?

A cataract may go unnoticed in the early stages, but over time, visibility deteriorates, the image becomes blurred, a person may start seeing black clouds, doubling, dazzling brighter light, driving in the dark becomes difficult. Although this visual impairment is most common in the elderly, it can also be congenital, developed due to a systemic disease or trauma to the body. The only treatment is surgery during which the lens of the eye is changed. The earlier you decide to treat cataracts, the better your vision will be.

High blood sugar fluctuations provoke patients with diabetes who do not adequately regulate their diet and take medication to treat the illness, severely damaging the small blood vessels in the eyes and kidneys – deterioration of the blood supply to the retina and optic nerve. According to the doctor’s recommendation, patients with diabetes should have their retina checked once or twice a year in a specialised clinic.

Vision Is Restored in Just 30 Minutes

Cataract surgery is quick and completely painless, performed under local anaesthesia. Procedures last only 20-30 minutes during a microsection of approximately 2 mm, the opaque lens of the eye is removed, and a new, personalised lens is implanted. After a few hours, the patient goes home, sleeps in his bed, is supervised by loved ones and feels safe. Visual improvement is felt as early as the first days, and the end result depends on the patient’s postoperative discipline.

Before the operation, the family doctor prepares the patient for surgical eye treatment – regulates blood pressure, blood sugar, performs all mandatory tests, examines and confirms that the patient can have surgery.

For sharper, better contrast and colour separation, aspherical lenses are offered. For those with complaints of astigmatism, vision can be improved by implanting toric, astigmatism-correcting intraocular lenses. Suppose the patient’s lifestyle is more active. In that case, it is essential to maintain vision both in the distance and up close – for example, when doing handicrafts, working in the garden or with the computer, frequently reading newspapers or books, and driving trifocal lenses are recommended.

According to Lilija Socevičienė, a microsurgeon at the Lirema Eye Clinic, the price of the lens testifies to its quality, better functional properties, tolerance of the body and adaptation in the eye. These lenses are recommended when the fundus blood vessels are intact and there are no minor bruises.

“Better quality soft aspherical and trifocal lenses are not only easier to implant and provide better visual quality, but also remain stable in the eye and reduce the chances of developing secondary cataracts,” says the doctor.

A Healthy Lifestyle Equals Good Vision

Although heredity has a significant impact on health, many eye diseases can be delayed or prevented by living healthier lives.

“The most important healthy changes are the content of what makes up the food diet, whether we move a lot, or try to avoid stress and look at situations more positively,” says L. Socevičienė.

Studies show that eating foods rich in antioxidants such as vitamins C and E can prevent the development of cataracts. If the disease has already progressed, these vitamins slow down disease progress. Vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits, tomatoes, green and red peppers, broccoli, strawberries and potatoes. Vitamin E is found in sunflowers, wheat germ, almonds and spinach. It is also imperative to pay daily attention to eye exercises, spend at least 2 hours a day in the fresh air observing the environment. On sunny days be sure to wear sunglasses and come every year for an eye check-up.