Cataract is a common eye condition affecting patients of any age, but more commonly over 65 years of age. Cataracts are where the lens within the eye, which allows you to focus, gradually over time loses clarity and becomes cloudy. It’s a bit like looking through a dirty window or a frosted bathroom window in extreme cases.
Cataracts are increasingly common and are one of the main causes of blindness worldwide. Don’t be frightened about this. The treatment is relatively straightforward and if successful will restore your vision back to the vision you once had if the remainder of the eye remains healthy.
Why have you got cataracts?
As you age, the clear protein of the lens reacts with UV sunlight exposure, causing the lens to be become cloudy. Did you know airline pilots are 3 times more likely to develop cataracts? This is because they are often exposed to UV light above the clouds.
Aging is the single most common cause of cataracts, mainly due to the lifelong exposure to UV light.
There are other causes, including:
What symptoms may you experience?
Often cataracts are diagnosed by your ophthalmologist or optician as a result of a routine visit. As a patient however, you may notice some common symptoms that makes you seek help. These may include:
Although a change of glasses may work temporarily. However, the only real permanent and effective treatment option for cataracts is a relatively straightforward and common operation to remove the cloudy natural lens and replace this with a bespoke lens suitable for your eye. Usually cataract surgery is undertaking as a daycase procedure, meaning you can return home the same day.
The operation takes about 10 minutes and is undertaken using anaesthesia eye drops. That’s right, generally this means no injections! Usually you regain feeling in your eye several hours after the operation.
After the surgery, the eye is covered with an eyeshield, generally worn at night for a week or so after. In the absence of any other medical problems with the eye, most patients experience improved vision within a day or 2 after the operation.
No operation is risk free, and although the vast majority of patients are much improved following surgery, permanent visual loss can occur. The risk of infection is rare but can affect upto 1 in 1000 operations and may result in permanent sight loss.
If you need to know more about your potential path from referral through the entire journey for cataract surgery, please link below:
Frequently asked questions
What is a cataract?
Why have I developed cataracts?
- A family history of cataracts
- Use of medications, such as steroids
- Injuries to the eye