Cataracts have been the leading cause of blindness throughout history. Even with the advancements in modern medicine, cataracts still present a significant challenge to the medical field. Although not always successful, many ancient civilizations attempted various treatments for cataracts, with the first attempted treatment dating back to Ancient Greece. In this blog post, we will delve into the long and fascinating history behind cataract treatment.
What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens that causes the vision to become blurry or hazy. This phenomenon occurs naturally with age and is known as senile cataract. There are also secondary cataracts that may develop due to specific conditions such as diabetes, radiation exposure, or the use of certain medications.
Ancient Cataract Treatment
The ancient Greeks were the first to document an attempted treatment for cataracts. They proposed that the fluid in the eye could be drained, thereby eliminating the cataract. Unfortunately, this treatment usually resulted in severe complications and blindness.
In Egypt, a technique called couching was invented, which involved the use of a needle to push the lens to the bottom of the eye. While this could provide temporary functional vision for the individual, it often led to other adverse outcomes in the long run.
History’s Most Famous Cataract Surgery Patient
One of the most well-known individuals to undergo cataract surgery was Catholic philosopher and theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas. The surgery took place in 1252, and although it was successful, he suffered complications and never fully recovered. It was not until the 18th and 19th centuries that significant advancements in cataract surgery began to take place, leading to much improved outcomes.
Cataract Surgery in the 21st Century
Today, cataract surgery has come a long way, with millions of successful procedures being performed each year worldwide. Rather than open surgery, modern cataract surgery is a minimally invasive procedure with a less than 1% rate of significant complications. During the surgery, the cloudy lens is replaced with an implant called an intraocular lens. The lens is tailored according to a patient’s specific requirements and can drastically improve their vision.
Cataracts: The Most Reversible Cause of Blindness
Cataracts are the most preventable and reversible cause of blindness worldwide, with modern cataract surgery being one of the safest and most successful procedures performed today. With advancements in medical technology, cataract surgery will continue to improve, providing improved quality of life for many individuals suffering from cataracts.
Cataract treatment has come a long way since it was first documented by the ancient Greeks. Although initial methods were crude and even harmful, today's modern surgical techniques allow for successful treatment and an improvement in a patient’s quality of life. It is fascinating to see how much medical technology has advanced, and the future looks bright for individuals suffering from cataracts.
At Lentz Eye Care, our patient's lifelong vision health is our priority. Call us today and schedule your annual eye exam.