Cataracts – What you should Know

What is Cataracts?

Cataract is a common eye condition that causes clouding of the natural lens inside the eye, leading to a gradual decrease in vision. The lens, which is normally clear, becomes cloudy or opaque, resulting in blurred or hazy vision. Cataracts typically develop slowly over time and can affect one or both eyes.

With age and other factors, the proteins in the lens may start to clump together and interfere with light transmission, causing the lens to become less transparent.

What causes it?

Cataracts primarily occur due to age-related changes in the lens, known as age-related cataracts. Other factors that can contribute to cataract development include:

  • Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
  • Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes.
  • Eye injuries or trauma.
  • Prolonged use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids.
  • Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Genetic factors or family history of cataracts. 

Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts

The symptoms of cataracts can vary depending on their size and location within the lens. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Blurred, cloudy, or hazy vision.
  • Decreased colour perception or a yellowish tinge to vision.
  • Increased sensitivity to glare, especially from bright lights or sunlight.
  • Difficulty seeing at night or in low-light conditions.
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions.
  • Double vision or multiple images in one eye.

How is Cataract Diagnosed and Treated?

Cataracts are diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination conducted by an eye care professional. They will evaluate visual acuity, examine the lens using specialised instruments, and assess the overall health of the eye.

If cataracts significantly affect daily activities or quality of life, the most effective treatment is surgical removal of the cloudy lens. Cataract surgery is a common and highly successful procedure in which the clouded lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis and involves minimal discomfort and a short recovery period.

Cataract surgery has a high success rate in improving vision, and patients often experience a significant improvement in clarity and visual quality. Following surgery, prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses may still be needed to achieve optimal vision, especially for certain activities or vision correction for pre-existing conditions such as astigmatism.

It’s important to note that cataracts cannot be prevented or treated with medications or eye drops. However, wearing sunglasses with UV protection, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and regular eye examinations can help monitor eye health and detect cataracts at an early stage. Early detection allows for timely intervention and appropriate treatment to preserve and restore vision.

Book your consultation with one of our highly trained Optometrists today to start your eyecare journey.