Community Eyecare

Cataracts

Cataracts are a common eye condition affecting patients of any age, but more commonly those over 65 years old. 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.

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:

Why have I got cataracts?

Aging is the most common cause of cataracts, due to lifelong exposure to UV light.

Other causes of cataracts can include:

  • Genetics- if there is a family history of cataracts
  • Steroids- Cataract formation is a side effect of taking steroid tablets
  • Lifestyle Choices- such as poor diet, smoking or alcohol consumption.
  • Eye Injury- Trauma or inflammation of the eye may lead to cataracts

Cataract Symptoms:

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:

  • Difficulty seeing clearly for distance, especially when driving
  • Fading vision that cannot be corrected
  • Sensitivity to light, glare, and seeing halos around lights
  • Changing glasses or contact lens prescriptions frequently- this may be an early indication of cataracts.

 

Treatment:

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 day-case 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 eye-shield, 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.

Cataract Journey

Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB)

the Association of Optometrists