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What are cataracts?

Cataracts refer to a common eye condition characterized by the clouding of the lens in the eye, leading to blurred vision. Cataracts can occur in one or both eyes and are primarily associated with aging. They typically develop gradually over time and may not cause noticeable symptoms in the early stages.

The lens of the eye is normally clear, allowing light to pass through and focus on the retina, which sends visual signals to the brain. However, with cataracts, the proteins in the lens start to clump together and cloud the lens, causing light to scatter and preventing clear images from reaching the retina.

Cataracts are more prevalent in older people, but they can also be caused by other factors, such as:

  • Trauma to the eye
  • Diabetes
  • Long-term use of certain medications, like corticosteroids
  • Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light
  • Certain medical conditions or genetic disorders

Cataracts sometimes develop so slowly that you might not notice any changes in your vision but they can be detected during your routine eye examination.

Cataracts can significantly impact your quality of life, as they may lead to difficulties with daily activities including reading, driving (particularly at night) and recognizing faces. However, they can be effectively treated through surgery, during which the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL), either single focus or multifocal.

Normally, if you have cataracts in both eyes, they will be removed separately. You’ll usually have one eye operated on first and then once this eye is healed, you’ll have the cataract in your other eye removed a few weeks or months later.

Four to six weeks after surgery, you will need a follow up eye examination to check if glasses or contact lenses are still required. Most patients gain significant improvements with their distance vision after surgery.

If you suspect you have cataracts or experience changes in your vision, please do get in touch or book an appointment with one of our highly experience optometrists. A timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment can lead to improved vision and quality of life.