management of cataracts
At present there is no pharmacological treatment to cure existing cataracts or to halt its progression (1).
Non surgical management that can be considered includes:
- counseling the patient about cataract symptoms and how it may affect daily activities
- advising the patients about minimizing their exposure to risk factors e.g. - cessation of smoking, control of diabetes, alternate medications for people on oral or inhaled corticosteroids.
- prescribing spectacles or contact lenses to improve vision (1)
- using brimmed hats or sunglasses to minimize glare
- dilating the pupil (if there is a small centrally located cataract) (2)
Ophthalmological referral for surgery should be based on factors such as:
- the level of visual impairment and how it affects the patient’s quality of life
- patient's willingness to have surgery
- co-morbidity which might benefit from surgery
- posterior segment condition where cataract surgery may help in managing and/or monitoring e.g. - diabetic retinopathy (1)
- when the lens threatens to cause a secondary glaucoma or uveitis
Surgery may be indicated despite there being good visual acuity, particularly if there are symptoms associated with the cataract such as glare. Other indications for referral include double vision (or ghosting) and change in colour perception.
The outcomes of modern surgical techniques are so good that a visual acuity of 6/9 and 'trouble with vision' due to cataract is often accepted as sufficient indication for surgery (4).
- (1) American Academy of Ophthalmology 2006. Preferred practice pattern: cataract in the adult eye
- (2) Americal Optometric Association 2004. Optometric clinical practice guidelines. Care of the adult patient with cataract
- (3) Royal College of Ophthalmologists 20010. Cataract surgery guidelines
Last reviewed 01/2018