A cataract is a cloudiness that forms in the lens of the eye, as a result of protein in the lens clumping together. As the cataract clouds the lens, it gets in the way of light entering the eye resulting in poor vision. Most cataracts are age related, which means the chances of developing them later in life are higher. If left untreated cataracts can cause blindness. People with cataracts may experience difficulty reading, recognising faces and watching television.
What causes cataracts?
While the jury is still out on the exact cause of cataracts, research points to long-term exposure to ultra-violet light, diabetes, obesity, family history and smoking as some of the risk factors that are thought to contribute to the development of cataracts. While cataracts can be present at birth or acquired as a result of disease (such as diabetes), trauma to the eye, exposure to radiation or prolonged use of steroids, most instances of cataracts occur later in life, making ageing one of the highest risk factors for cataracts.
Cataracts signs and symptoms
Usually cataracts affect both eyes but often develop at different rates in each eye. As the cataract grows, you may experience:
- blurry vision
- sensitivity to bright light and glare
- difficulty reading, recognising faces and watching television
- dullness in colours.
For many people, cataracts won’t require surgery. Cataracts may become a nuisance but often they develop to a certain level and then stabilise. If you have a cataract that impairs your vision to a degree where it interferes with your everyday activities or your safety, the cataract-affected lens can be removed surgically and replaced with a clear artificial lens.
Before recommending cataract surgery your optometrist will consider:
- The condition of the eye
- Your general health
- Any complicating conditions such as glaucoma or diabetes
- The expected improvement in vision after surgery
What can you expect from cataract surgery?
Today the removal of a cataract is a relatively simple and minor procedure. Often it is performed under a local anaesthetic, and in most instances, does not require an overnight stay in hospital. Cataract surgery improves vision in more than 95% of cases.
Book an eye test today
Has it been more than 2 years since your last eye test? We know that early detection is vital for vision loss prevention and the treatment of eye disease. Having your eyes examined regularly by the same independent optometrist, means even the smallest change in your vision can be detected.Find your nearest optometrist now