Everything You Need to Know About Cataract Surgery in Singapore

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What is cataract?

Cataract is a condition in which the clear lens of your eye becomes cloudy and impaired, hence, preventing adequate light rays from entering the eye. Cataract is an ageing eye condition and starts to form in people from the age of about 40. According to the Tanjong Pagar Survey, there was a reported cataract prevalence of 35% in Chinese people aged over 40 in Singapore and jumped to 80% in people aged over 60.

Three main types of cataract

A cataract occurs when the lens inside your eye becomes cloudy, thus leading to blurred and decreased field of vision. Contrast and colour perception may also be affected in its early stages.

There are 3 types of cataracts and they include the following:

  • Nuclear cataract – Usually associated with old age; this forms deep in the centre of the lens (nucleus).
  • Posterior sub-capsular – Occurs to people who have taken high doses of steroids and or have diabetes; this forms at the back of the lens.
  • Cortical cataract – Occurs in the cortex of the lens and is characterised by peripheral clouding towards the centre of the lens.

Early signs and symptoms of cataract

Symptoms for cataract usually are not serious. They usually start out mild which have little effect to your quality of life.

The most common indicators of a developing cataract may include blurry or misty vision. Other symptoms include:

  • Finding lights too bright or too glaring, either from lamps, the sun or car headlights.
  • Finding it harder to see in dim light.
  • Experiencing a brown or yellow tinge to your vision.
  • Finding colours looking faded and less clear.
  • Experiencing double vision.
  • Seeing a circle of light (haloes) around bright lights.

There are also a number of other causes of cataract though it mainly occurs due to old age:

  • Family history.
  • Vices (smoking, alcohol consumption).
  • Obesity.
  • Previous eye injury, inflammation, and or surgery.

Is cataract treatable?

If you or your loved one happen to have cataract, and you find that your quality of life has fallen. It is heartening to know that cataract is highly treatable.

There are products like eyedrops and supplements which claim that they can cure cataracts. However, there are not sufficient studies to support such claims. The only known and proven treatment to cure cataracts is through cataract surgery, whereby the natural eye lens will be removed and replaced by an artificial lens known as an intraocular lens (IOL).

What are the types cataract treatments available and are they safe?

If you have severe cataract, advanced cataract surgery should be considered to help you regain your vision.

The procedure involves the removal of the clouded natural lens and replacing it with an artificial one known as an intraocular lens (IOL) to restore vision. At Atlas Eye Specialist Centre, we perform the following 2 cataract surgery procedures:

  1. Micro-incision phacoemulsification surgery  Micro-incision phacoemulsification is the current standard of cataract removal. It uses ultrasound energy to liquify the cataract enabling the emulsified cataract to be removed through a small wound. With incision sizes of between 2 and 3mm in width, stitches are usually not required as the wounds are self-sealing, allowing for greater comfort and improved speed of recovery.
  2. Laser-assisted cataract surgery – The procedure uses laser energy to automate some of the more difficult steps of the surgery. It promises reduced ultrasound power utilisation, improved wound construction, greater predictability in lens positioning and advantages in some forms of complex cataract surgery.

Cataract surgery usually takes 15 to 30 minutes per eye. It is considered as one of the safest and most successful surgical procedures. Most patients can return to work 1 week after the procedure.

Type of intraocular lens (IOL)

The intraocular lenses (IOLs) available for cataract surgery fall under the following classifications:

  • Monofocal lens: This will only fix issues in 1 segment of your visual range (usually distance vision) and is used for patients who do not mind continuing to use glasses for specific tasks such as reading.
  • Multifocal lens: This correct short-sightedness/long-sightedness and presbyopia at the same time and therefore can potentially eliminate the need for glasses altogether.

Note that both monofocal and multifocal lenses can correct moderate to high corneal astigmatism if they incorporate toric lens design; having different powers in different meridians of the lens.

Which cataract surgery is right for me?

If you need more information on which treatment is suited for your cataract condition, you can visit our eye centre for an $86 cataract assessment. During your assessment, our eye specialist will discuss your surgical options with you based on your eye condition, lifestyle needs and budget.

Does Medisave and insurance cover cataract surgery?

Yes, you can claim Medisave for cataract surgery, up to $2,450 per eye. Medisave can be claimed from either your own, spouse’s, or children’s Medisave account. If you do have health insurance, you may be able to claim part of or all of the surgery cost depending on your coverage.