They’re a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the pupil. Normally, a lens is clear but with cataracts clouding develops which interferes with the light entering the eye and results in poor vision.
If left untreated, they can lead to progressive vision loss and blindness.
Usually, the development of cataracts is gradual and painless and has little effect on vision at first.
The main symptoms are:
- Hazy vision
- Increased sensitivity to light (glare)
- Reduced night vision
- Colours become less vibrant.
You might not experience all of the symptoms, and they might present differently in each eye, or only in one eye.
Sometimes they develop so slowly that you might not even notice any changes. This is why it’s so important to discuss even small changes in your vision with your optometrist as soon as possible.
Most cataracts develop as a normal part of the ageing process and are more commonly found in people aged 65 and over.
Other risk factors include:
- Long-term exposure to UV sunlight
- Certain diseases (i.e. – diabetes)
- Eye injury
- Family history.
The only treatment is surgery.
Our optometrists may refer you to an ophthalmologist to determine if your cataracts should be removed. Surgery is usually performed when your vision deteriorates enough to interfere with daily life, i.e. when it affects your ability to drive safely.
Usually performed as a day procedure and under a local anaesthetic, it involves removing the cloudy lens of the eye and replacing it with a plastic lens. For most people, recovery of vision occurs a few days after surgery.