Cataracts

What are Cataracts?

Within your eye, the lens is used to focus light that enters the front of the eye to form a picture on the retina at the back of the eye. In a young person, the lens of the eye is perfectly clear but it becomes gradually cloudier with increasing age – like a window, which is never cleaned. When there is a cloudy area in the lens of the eye, it is called a cataract. As a cataract develops, the eyesight becomes worse even if the correct spectacles are worn.

Who is at risk?

Cataracts are a normal feature of ageing. Many adults aged over 65 develop cataracts, which are built up over a long period of time. Occasionally, they can worsen over a short period. Very rarely they can also develop for reasons other than normal ageing.

How cataracts effect our vision

As a cataract grows you may experience some of the following:

  • Cloudy, fuzzy, foggy or blurry vision
  • Changes in the way you see colours
  • Less effective night vision
  • Difficulties driving at night due to glare from headlights
  • Glare from the sun or lights. A halo may appear around some lights.
  • Double vision in one eye. (May clear as cataract increases in size.)
  • Frequent changes in your spectacle prescription

How cataracts are treated

Your consultant will initially undertake a series of diagnostic tests to establish the size and severity of the cataract, so that you can, together, make an informed decision about the need for the cataract to be removed. The only method to remove a cataract is by surgery. The cloudy lens will be surgically removed from your eye, and replaced by a permanent implant lens, restoring the focusing power of your eye.

Cataract surgery is usually undertaken under local anaesthetic and is virtually painless. Most patients find the experience reasonably comfortable.

Who is at risk

Cataracts are a normal feature of ageing. Many adults aged over 65 develop cataracts, which normally build up slowly.

Occasionally, they can worsen over a short period.

Very rarely they can also develop for reasons other than normal ageing.