Over half of those past the age of 65 have some cataract development and most cases can be treated successfully with surgery. A cataract is not a skin that grows over the eye but a clouding of part of the eye called the lens. Vision becomes blurred or dim because light cannot pass through the clouded lens to the back of the eye.
What Causes a Cataract?
Cataracts can form at any age, but most often they are a natural consequence of getting older. They develop slowly and are painless. In younger people they can result from an injury or trauma, or from taking certain medication, long-standing inflammation or illnesses such as diabetes.
What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms of cataracts may include the following complaints:
“I’m not seeing as well as I used to.”
You may notice that your vision is blurred or that your glasses seem dirty or scratched.
“I sometimes see double’
The cloudiness in the lens caused by cataracts may occur in more than one place, causing a double image.
“My vision is poor in bright light”
Bright light or very sunny days may make it more difficult to see when someone has cataracts.
“I’ve noticed a change in colours”
As the cataract develops, its centre becomes more and more yellow, giving everything you see a yellowish tinge.
Experiencing these symptoms can also be a sign of other eye problems so it’s important to consult your optometrist for an eye examination.
Eye Test for Cataracts
At Eyesite our optometrists are professionally qualified to spot a range of eye disorders, including cataracts. We use the most advanced eye testing technology to detect early signs of the condition and can provide specialist eye care plans to ensure it is effectively monitored. An eye test for cataracts will follow the same procedure for all eye tests, but your optometrist will also discuss your symptoms and the degree to which the cataract is impairing your vision. From here they will be able to talk you through the condition and what treatment options are available – depending on the severity of your cataracts.
Early cataracts often make you more short-sighted, which in the initial stages can be compensated for by altering the prescription of your glasses. Tinted lenses or shielding your eyes from the sun may also help. However, the benefit is usually only short-lived as the cataract continues to progress and the symptoms increase.
At an advanced stage of cataracts, the most effective treatment is a simple operation to remove the cloudy lens. Your optometrist will advise you when you need to be referred to your GP or hospital. Many people get cataracts surgery when the changes to their vision starts causing them difficulties day to day. If you are finding it increasingly difficult to see in bright light, cook, read or look after yourself due to your condition, you need to make this clear to your optometrist so they can make the referral.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures and in most cases can be carried out under local anaesthetic on a day-case basis, without an overnight stay in hospital. It usually takes around 30 to 40 minutes and afterwards your eyes will be covered with a dressing which needs to stay on overnight. The operation itself isn’t painful, but you may experience some soreness and redness afterwards.
What is a Lens Implant?
During cataracts surgery, once your cloudy lens has been removed, it is replaced by a plastic lens which is implanted in the eye so it can focus properly. Under local anaesthetic this procedure is completely painless and the implanted lens is gently popped in place through a tiny incision. This means you won’t need any stitches, which will speed up your recovery.
Once the eye has healed following cataracts surgery a change of spectacles is usually required. If your doctor decides the eye is not suitable for a lens implant, contact lenses or special glasses will be prescribed instead.