Cataracts: an overview

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Have you ever noticed someone with cloudy-looking eyes? It’s almost as if the person has a white contact lens in over their pupil, isn’t it? This is what a cataract looks like.

It’s likely that you’ve heard of cataracts before. You may even know someone who has had one. But unless you’ve had one yourself, it’s unlikely that you know why they appear and how they may affect you.

Unfortunately, cataracts are very common – especially in those over the age of 40. Usually, ageing is the main cause of cataracts; however, other causes can include eye surgery, certain medication, and diabetes. Smoking, spending too long in the sunlight without eye protection and an unhealthy diet may also increase your chances of developing cataracts.

Cataracts appear when the cells of the lens in your eye change, creating a cloudy or misty layer over the eye. In a healthy eye, light enters and is focused by the cornea and lens onto the retina. However, when light hits an eye with a cataract it can’t pass through properly, which causes problems with vision.

Most people don’t immediately notice a cataract developing. Instead, they may feel a slight deterioration in their sight at first; it can feel as though you’re wearing smudged glasses. Gradually, this will worsen and even lights can cause an issue to your sight, making it more difficult to see shapes or causing more of a glare than normal.

If you notice symptoms like these it’s important to speak to your optician. We can examine your eyes in great detail to establish what treatment is available.

Fortunately, cataracts are completely treatable, although this will involve surgery. Usually, we suggest waiting until they cause a change in your vision before you have surgery; surgery is straightforward, but as with any operation, there are risks involved. However, you can opt to have a cataract removed at any stage. When you visit your optician, explain exactly how the cataract is affecting your everyday life (for example, it may mean that you have trouble reading, cooking, driving, or taking part in any of your normal activities).

The operation simply involves replacing your lens with an artificial lens. This usually takes around 30 minutes and you can go home the same day, although you will need some assistance from a friend or family member. It can take around a week for you to see the full results of the surgery and during that time you will need to use some specially prescribed eye drops.

Your new artificial lens should give you clear distance vision, even if you needed glasses to achieve this before. However, you will need glasses for reading, as the new lens isn’t able to focus close-up. You will need to see your optician for an eye examination around a month after your surgery to ascertain your new prescription.

Your optician will always be on hand to answer any questions you may have after your surgery. At Eye Emporium we welcome you to call us at any point should you have any concerns whatsoever.

If you’ve noticed any slight change in your vision, or you think you may have cataracts, simply give our team a call on 0800 020 9202. We will arrange an eye examination for you and answer any questions you have.