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A cataract is simply the lens of your eye becoming cloudy or misty, rather than remaining clear. This makes things harder to see and is a natural and gradual process which happens to everyone we get older.
It doesn’t hurt, nor is it any form of a “growth” inside the eye, as some people are led to believe it is. The early stages of a cataract do not always affect how you see, so you may have one for years and not even realise it if you haven’t been for your recommended eye test.
Every time we examine your eyes we routinely screen for cataract development. Should we detect any such change in your eyes we’ll give you our professional advice regarding your cataract(s) and your eye health.
The only proven treatment for a cataract is surgery, when your own ‘cloudy’ lens is removed and a clear plastic lens replaces it. If you develop a cataract which affects your ability to carry out day-to-day activities we’ll contact your GP to arrange an appointment for you to see a hospital consultant. Cataract surgery is usually carried out under a local anaesthetic and is very safe.
Why do cataracts occur?
The main cause is age. However, smoking, poor diet and exposure to sunlight have been linked to cataracts.
Younger people can develop cataracts if they have an injury to their eye. Some medical conditions (e.g. diabetes) and some medication (e.g. steroids) may also cause cataracts. A very small number of babies are born with a cataract.
How will cataracts affect my vision?
- You may notice that you need the prescription in your glasses changing. If you’re long-sighted, you may even notice that you need your glasses less than you did before you had the cataract!
- You may notice that your vision is less clear and distinct.
- Car headlights and streetlights can become dazzling.
- Colours may look different too and become faded or yellowed.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see us!
If you have a cataract which is affecting your day-to-day life (for example, driving, reading, working, shopping, cooking etc.) our optician will do everything they can to improve your vision by changing your glasses strength first. If your level of vision still isn’t good enough with your glasses we’ll send a referral letter via your GP to an Ophthalmologist who will then decide whether your cataract (cloudy lens) needs to be removed. This procedure is quick and generally very successful.
Do cataracts only happen in one eye?
If you’ve had a cataract removed from one eye, it is possible that you’ll need the same treatment for the other eye at some point in the future.