By far the most common visual complaint among our older eyecare clients is the result of lens changes in the eye, namely cataracts.
You get a cataract when the clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy or misty, this is a gradual process that usually happens as we get older and the early stages do not necessarily affect your sight.
Why do cataracts occur?
The main cause is age. However, smoking and exposure to sunlight have been linked to getting cataracts.
Younger people can develop cataracts if they have an injury to the eye and some medical conditions including diabetes or taking certain medication may also cause cataracts.
Did you know?
A very small number of babies are born with cataracts.
Can I prevent cataracts?
There are various supplements on the market which claim to help slow the progression of cataracts and some eye drops have been marketed as a treatment for them - there is no scientific evidence to suggest that any of these can prevent or treat cataracts.
The best advice to try and prevent cataracts is not to smoke and to wear good quality sunglasses with full UV protection.
Will cataracts affect your sight?
Many people with a cataract will notice their vision is less clear and distinct, car headlights and streetlights can become dazzling and colours may look different or faded. If your cataract if affecting your day to day life and we cannot improve your vision by updating your glasses, you can ask us to refer you to an ophthalmologist (specialist eye doctor) for surgery.
What does cataract surgery involve?
You will have an initial appointment to assess and measure your eyes. You will be asked about your general health to ensure the operation is suitable for you.
Most cataract operations are done using a local anaesthetic. The specialist will remove the cataract and in most cases, insert a plastic replacement lens so that you can see clearly. The procedure usually lasts 15 - 20 minutes, although it can take longer. You will be allowed to go home the same day, but should have someone to go with you. Do not drive.
After the operation you will be given eye drops to use and your sight will settle down in a few days or weeks. You will probably find that your glasses will need changing after the operation, so you will need to come and visit us a few weeks after surgery.
For more information please come and talk to your optometrist.