Y Magazine

Out Of Sight

Cataract is the leading cause of blindness, and spotting its signs early will help to prevent loss of vision, say experts at Burjeel Hospital.



The eye is one of the body’s most complicated pieces of equipment.

Changes occur with age, and short-sightedness is common. With regular check-ups and easy maintenance, coupled with good fortune, your eyes should last a lifetime.

We take it for granted that our vision will deteriorate, especially in middle age. However, some people aren’t so lucky. Some of us might develop cataract, which is the biggest cause of blindness in the world today.

A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil. It is one of the medical emergencies to affect the eye that will permanently damage your eyesight if you don’t get immediate help.

According to a report by the World Health Organisation, nearly 20 million people are blinded by cataract    which constitutes 45 per cent of those around the world who are blind.

Unfortunately, this number is expected to grow by one million every
year.

In the Sultanate, cataract has been found to be the main cause of 35 per cent of cases of blindness. The national cataract surgery rate stands at 2,120 per million.

Meanwhile, the number of cases of blindness due to un-operated cataracts has risen from 1.8 per cent to 2.3 per cent over the past year, according to studies.

Sufferers are often slow to spot the signs and get help to tackle the disease.

In Muscat, Burjeel Hospital’s Dr Mansour Abdulkhalek Mabrouk Abukhelewa says: “There are still barriers that prevent people from seeking surgical solutions.

“These can be divided into patient-related such as motivation, mobility, and money; and provider-related factors such as the availability of expertise, materials, management, and marketing.”

With a cataract, the lens at the front of your eye will become cloudy. Colours may look faded and look tinged with yellow. You might see bright haloes around bright lights or find them too dazzling, and your vision may become misty or blurred.

However, removing a cataract is a relatively simple operation. The cataract is removed under local anaesthetic and replaced with an artificial, plastic lens. The procedure is usually performed on an out-patient basis and shouldn’t require an overnight stay in hospital. 

In Oman, Burjeel Hospital in Muscat is committed to providing comprehensive treatment for the surgery.

Burjeel Hospital’s Dr Mansour says: “We offer multidisciplinary ophthalmology care for men, women and children, and cataract surgery does figure prominently in our eye-care programme.

“We offer a wide range of comprehensive eye care services to treat diseases and conditions that include: cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, low vision, macular degeneration and retinal detachment.”

The quality of surgery and overall patient care is crucial in ensuring successful outcomes as is using the latest developments in eye-care, including new lens technology,” says Dr Mansoor.

Ultimately, it all comes down to a patient’s desire or need for better vision. 

“The presence of cataract in one eye directly influences driving performance, for example.

When a patient has bilateral visually significant cataracts, surgery is performed first in the eye with the more advanced cataract,” says Dr Mansoor.

So if your vision is poor, don’t ignore it. Make an appointment to see an opthalmologist.